Pandemic Waste Discovery in Bali Strait Raises Concern

Arfi Bambani
Pandemic waste found on the street of Sampit, Central Kalimantan
Pandemic waste found on the street of Sampit, Central Kalimantan - Research and Development Manager for Ecological Observation and Wetland Conservation (ECOTON) Program Daru Setyorini said the findings of antigen test medical waste in the Bali Strait can have an impact on the surrounding environment, including when it is degraded into microplastics.

Contacted by ANTARA on Thursday, February 3, 2022, Daru said the chemicals used in the antigen test could contaminate the environment where the medical waste was found. "Secondly, if the plastic waste is disposed of in the environment, it will eventually break down into microplastics, and the plastic chemicals will also be dissolved in the surrounding waters," said Daru.

This needs to be a concern because most plastics are made from synthetic chemicals that can be toxic including Bisphenol-A (BPA) which can affect health. The degradation can also affect ecosystems including fish and birds.

"When this test pack degrades over time into smaller pieces it will spread more and more into the sea," he explained.

Previously, a lot of medical waste in the form of antigen test kits was found along the coast of the Bali Strait and went viral on social media in the last few days. The first video, which is 30 seconds long, shows thousands of cotton buds used for antigen testing floating in the Bali Strait and the second video shows several antigen test kits being dumped and burned on the coast of the Bali Strait.

The issue of pandemic waste has also been highlighted by the World Health Organization (WHO) which warns that tens of tons of medical waste consisting of used syringes, test kits, and vaccine bottles during the pandemic threaten human health and the environment.

The WHO report released last Tuesday (1/2) estimated that around 87,000 tons of personal protective equipment (PPE) have been ordered through the UN portal until November 2021. Most of the PPE is expected to end up as waste.

The report also mentions that 140 million test kits have the potential to generate 2,600 tons of non-infectious waste, mostly plastic and 731,000 liters of chemical waste.

Tag # pandemic waste # waste # indonesia biodiversity # indonesia covid # pandemic # ocean pollution # bali

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