Sedat Gündoğdu from Turkey’s Çukurova University has developed a map to detect medical waste around Turkey, which has significantly increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.
An academic in the faculty of aquaculture, Gündoğdu launched a website in March to track waste of personal protective equipment (PPE) including masks, gloves, bonnets and wet wipes. The website contains a map, which allows users to notify where these items are being thrown into nature. Most notices have been received from southern Adana province.
Noting that he aims to make people aware of the pollution caused by indiscriminate throwing of used PPE, Gündoğdu said many people started to notify about such litter after he developed the website.
“The vast majority of 2,066 entries in our system were sent from Adana. It is followed by Istanbul, Izmir, Diyarbakır, Trabzon, Ankara and Antalya. The highest waste is of masks with 1,083 entries. It is followed by wet wipes, gloves, disinfectant boxes, protective equipment, reusable masks and bonnets,” the academic said.
Gündoğdu added that gloves, bonnets, disinfectant boxes and wet wipes as well as some of the masks are made of plastic and create serious microplastic pollution.
“If these products are thrown into the ecosystem indiscriminately, the fiber-type microplastics on them spread to the environment when a vehicle passes over them. These emitted substances can also carry coronavirus. Throwing personal protective equipment into nature does not only cause visual pollution but also has the risk of spreading the virus," he said.