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Govt urged to promote use of fabric face masks


KUALA LUMPUR- The federal and state governments have been urged to promote  the use of fabric face masks that comply with the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, in efforts to reduce environmental pollution and stop the uncontrolled production of plastic waste.

Kuala Lumpur Gemilang Community Welfare Club (Gemilang Club) chairman Na’im Brundage said based on rough estimates, the mandatory use of face masks has the potential to increase 62,000 tonnes of non-recyclable plastic waste, 31,000 tonnes of contaminated waste and 27,000 tonnes of plastic packaging waste, within a year, should the of wearing disposable face masks continues.

“Based on WHO guidelines, the disposable medical surgical masks currently worn by a large number of Malaysians should only be worn by health workers, the general public with respiratory symptoms, high-risk groups such as the elderly and people with chronic diseases.

“As such we are certain that environmental pollution and uncontrolled production of plastic waste can be prevented if the people follow the guidelines set by WHO. They should choose to wear cloth face masks which can be reused after washing,” he said in a statement today.

He said face masks that meet WHO standards should consist of three layers where the innermost layer is of water-absorbent (hydrophilic) material, the outer layer made of absorbent (hydrophobic) material and the middle hydrophobic layer is of synthetic non-woven material such as polypropylene or a cotton layer, which may enhance filtration or retain droplets.