Covid-19-derived plastic debris contaminating marine ecosystem: Alert from a sea turtle


On 10 August 2021, a face mask (14 cm × 9 cm) was found in the feces of a juvenile green turtle, by-caught alive in a set net off the northeast coast of Japan. Although sea turtles have been monitored in this region over the last 15 years (n = 76), face masks had never been found before the Covid-19 pandemic and this is the first detection. Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy identified the mask as polypropylene. Estrogenic active benzotriazole-type UV stabilizers such as UV329 were detected in commercially available polypropylene face masks. Exposure of marine organisms ingesting plastics to endocrine-disrupting chemicals and physical injury are of concern. This study indicates that changes in human life in the pandemic are beginning to affect marine life. Precautionary actions including establishment of appropriate waste management of personal protective equipment and use of safe additives are urgently needed.

Authors: Takuya Fukuoka, Fumiki Sakane, Chihiro Kinoshita, Katsufumi Sato, Kaoruko Mizukawa, Hideshige Takada
; Full Source: Marine pollution bulletin 2022 Feb;175:113389. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2022.113389.