Life cycle assessment reveals negative environmental impacts of disposable surgical masks during the COVID-19 pandemic
A “Cradle to Grave” life cycle assessment is carried out in this research to quantify the environmental impact of surgical masks. The goals of this research are to: (1) calculate the pollutant emissions of surgical masks, (2) evaluate the environmental impact of global surgical masks during the COVID-19 pandemic, and (3) explore the main sources of the environmental impact. The findings have implications for sustainable development of surgical mask industry, and introducing combined mask policies of addressing both health and environmental issues. Here we present the life cycle inventory and unprocessed preliminary results. The inventory comes from field research on the enterprises in the mask industry chain, including raw material pretreatment, components production, and mask assembly. The unprocessed preliminary results are jointly obtained by the Ecoinvent 3.8 database, SimaPro 9.4 software, and ReCiPe 2016(H) model.