LBI REGION, NJ - Ocean County Board of Commissioners have report that disposable face masks have been turning up on the beaches and coastline throughout the county. Recognizing that face masks have become a necessity during the ongoing pandemic, improper disposal is a new threat to local waterways.

Commissioner Joseph H. Vicari stated in a recent press release  “I ask everyone to please dispose of your face masks properly and do not toss them on the ground" The masks are joining a long list of plastics, including bags and bottles, which wash into storm drains and end up in the bay.  “This problem can be easily controlled if people will simply place their used masks into the trash,” Vicari said.

The nonprofit Ocean Conservancy, which monitors water and beach pollution around the globe, said its members have found the number of disposable face masks washing ashore is increasing. From July through December 2020, Ocean Conservancy reported more than 107,219 pieces of pandemic-related items were removed from the ocean and beaches.

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Masks constituted the overwhelming majority of the items found. Commissioner Vicari added there have also been reports of seabirds and other wildlife becoming entangled in the elastic bands of face mask and suggests that people purchase reusable cloth face masks rather than the disposable variety. “Cloth masks are widely available and can be washed and reused many times,” Vicari said.

Gary Quinn, Director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners, said clean water and pristine beaches help attract thousands of visitors to Ocean County each year. “With the summer tourism season fast approaching, we must all do our best to protect our environment and our wildlife,” Quinn said. “Let us all work together to keep our beaches and our waterways clean and safe for everyone.”