Environmental groups back call for withdrawal of using face shields in public places

In this photo taken on September 19, 2020, people wearing face shields queue up at a public market in Manila. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

June 5, 2021 by Betheena Unite

Environmental groups called on the government to reassess its rule in requiring the wearing of face shields in public places as the measure is deemed ineffective and would only worsen plastic pollution.

The Nilad Metro Manila Environmental Network and Earth Island Institute on Saturday, June 5, appealed to the inter-agency task force on the management of emerging infectious diseases (IATF-EID) to withdraw the rule citing recent studies showing that the measure is ineffective.

Citing studies from international institutions like the Wayne State University School of Medicine, the groups said the wearing of face shields offers little of the needed protection to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

They explained that face shields contribute to the growing plastic waste, affecting the ecological balance and the lives of the marginalized sectors of society.

“The IATF and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) should reassess its strategy and consider the scientific studies of international institutions regarding the effect of face shields on virus prevention and environmental protection,” the organizations said.

“With a staggering number of 2.7 million tons of plastic waste being produced by the Philippines per year, face shields would add more to the plastic problem while enriching only a few big manufacturers,” they added.

The Duterte administration, the groups stressed, should learn that the main problem of the global pandemic is not the appropriate wearing of a face shield but the resiliency of the health systems.

“With the lack of a comprehensive plan and enough funding for the improvement of the health system, the goal of flattening the curve can never be achieved. The lack of a scientific and mass oriented solution to the global pandemic would exacerbate the crisis,” the groups said.

They further said that alternative solutions such as free mass testing, free mass vaccination, and the long-term solution of restoring biodiversity and environmental protection should be the priority of the government.

News article originally posted at the Manila Bulletin.