Justine Ammendolia and Jacquelyn Saturno are finalists for the “Future Ground” prize from the David Suzuki foundation. Ammendolia and Saturno research pollution from discarded PPE.
When the pandemic began in March 2020, Justine Ammendolia, an environmental scientist and data analyst, and her partner Jacquelyn Saturno observed masks, gloves and disinfectant wipes piling up in day-to-day places throughout their long daily walks around Toronto.
“The problem is there’s just too many facets of society using these types of items and it’s hard to get those numbers together,” Ammendolia says. “How do you measure? How do you know what’s coming into the system and what’s going out?”
The accelerating widespread production, consumption, and disposal of PPE makes it complicated to pinpoint these answers, but last May Ammendolia and Saturno decided to do something.
They surveyed six different locations using the Marine Debris Tracker, a geospatial citizen-science tool created by the University of Georgia New Materials Institute. Over the course of five weeks, they reviewed residential areas, commercial grocery store parking lots, a recreational trail, and a hospital district to gather their data samples.
The citizens choice prize is $2500, and you can vote online. It’s a tight race at the moment, and they are in third place out of 15.