Contamination of the marine environment in Egypt and Saudi Arabia with personal protective equipment during COVID-19 pandemic: A short focus

Ibrahim A. Hassan, Alaa Younis, Mansour A. Al Ghamdi, Mansour Almazroui, Jalal M. Basahi, Mostafa M. El-Sheekh, Emad K. Abouelkhair, Nesreen S. Haiba, Mohammed S. Alhussaini, Dina Hajjar, Magdy M. Abdel Wahab, Dahlia M. El Maghraby

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Plastic pollution and its impact on marine ecosystems are major concerns globally, and the situation was exacerbated after the outbreak of COVID-19.

Clean-up campaigns took place during the summer season (June–August 2020) in two coastal cities in Egypt (Alexandria and Hurghada) and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to document the abundance of beach debris through public involvement, and then remove it. A total of 3673, 255, and 848 items were collected from Alexandria, Hurghada, and Jeddah daily, respectively. Gloves and face masks (personal protective equipment “PPE”) represent represented 40–60% of the total plastic items collected from each of the three cities, while plastic bags represented 7–20% of the total plastics litter collected from the same cities. The results indicated the presence of 2.79, 0.29, and 0.86 PPE item m−2 in Alexandria, Hurghada and Jeddah, respectively.

This short focus provides an assessment of the environmental impacts of single-use gloves and masks used for COVID-19 protection from June to August 2020. To the best of our knowledge, this study presents the first such information from the Middle East, specifically Egypt and Saudi Arabia. It highlights the need for further knowledge and action, such as safe, sustainable, and transparent waste management processes related to COVID-19 to reduce the negative impacts now, as well as in future events. Furthermore, this study helps in achieving key components of the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This short focus can serve as a multipurpose document, not only for scientists of different disciplines but for social media and citizens in general.
Original languageEnglish
Article number152046
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date29 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2022


  • COVID-19
  • Marine ecosystems
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Plastic pollution
  • Volunteers

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