Protect Animals by Disposing of Your Face Masks Properly

Protect Animals by Disposing of Your Face Masks Properly

Protect Animals by Disposing of Your Face Masks Properly

You’ve probably seen them – face masks, including the highly effective N95 masks, littering the parking lot at your local grocery store, lying on the ground outside your kids’ school or blowing against a fence where you work. 

Yes, we’ve all been through a lot, but it really doesn’t take that much effort to properly dispose of your N95 masks and plastic gloves. It’s not just a nuisance, it’s a serious problem.

As Smithsonian magazine reports, Discarded Covid-19 Masks and Plastic Gloves Are Killing Wildlife. 

Apparently, some scientists saw it coming. “When the Covid-19 pandemic began to unfold and mask mandates were put in place, some researchers predicted an ‘environmental disaster’ that could ‘last generations.’,” the folks at the Smithsonian said. “Improperly discarded single-use personal protective equipment (PPE), such as disposable masks and latex gloves, could harm wildlife and exacerbate plastic pollution, Marie Fazio reported for the New York Times last summer.”

Wildlife Being Harmed  

Examples of animals being killed as a result of carelessness: 

  • Damian Carrington of the Guardian cited a penguin in Brazil that had swallowed a mask. In the U.K., he found instances of hedgehogs and foxes being caught up in face masks. 
  • Jessica Leigh Hester, writing for Atlas Obscura, reported on a little European perch (Perca fluviatilis) that died after becoming stuck inside the thumb of a disposable glove that someone didn’t dispose of properly. The fish was discovered by volunteers cleaning up canals in Leiden, Netherlands.
  • “Pets are also at risk,” the Smithsonian says. Right here in the United States, cats and dogs have died after eating someone’s face mask, according to a report in Science News.


When it’s time to take off your face mask, please take just a few moments to dispose of it properly.  

We hate to think that any of our N95 masks and particulate respirators, including our NIOSH-approved N95 Dura Mask and our 3M N95 with Cool Flow, were causing harm to any animal and we hope that you will help us in spreading the word about this problem.

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