Butt out

Whitsunday Times - - WHITSUNDAY VIEWS -

ON SATUR­DAY, May 14, I vol­un­teered with Eco­barge Clean Seas Inc. as they con­ducted a foreshore cleanup.

In three hours the vol­un­teers col­lected 157kg of rub­bish in­clud­ing a stag­ger­ing 5376 (1.2kg) cig­a­rette butts. I wanted to learn more about cig­a­rette butts so here are some facts about this ubiq­ui­tous ob­ject.

The first mis­con­cep­tion com­monly held is that they are biodegrad­able. They are not!

They pose a sig­nif­i­cant level of tox­i­c­ity to the en­vi­ron­ment, both marine and on­shore, if in­gested by marine crea­tures such as sea tur­tles or land based crea­tures such as small chil­dren and dogs.

The fil­ter tip con­sists of over 1500 cel­lu­lose ac­etate fi­bres treated with ti­ta­nium ox­ide and use glyc­erol tri­ac­etate as a bind­ing agent.

The fil­ter is sur­rounded by two lay­ers of paper and/or rayon which con­tain glue to hold the paper to­gether and sodium ac­etate to main­tain burn­ing.

The fil­ter con­tains the con­cen- trated residue of the con­sumed to­bacco of the cig­a­rette. Many chem­i­cals are used to grow to­bacco, the residues of which may be found in the cig­a­rette, in­clud­ing pes­ti­cides, her­bi­cides, in­sec­ti­cides, fungi­cides, and ro­den­ti­cides.

A care­less dis­carded cig­a­rette butt can re­lease nico­tine, ar­senic, poly­cyclic aro­matic hy­dro­car­bons and heavy met­als into the en­vi­ron­ment and are re­garded as car­cino­genic.

The sec­ond mis­con­cep­tion is that a fil­ter tipped cig­a­rette is more ben­e­fi­cial to the smoker than the un­tipped va­ri­ety. It’s not!

Fil­ter tips are a health haz­ard to both the smoker and, if dis­carded ir­re­spon­si­bil­ity to the wider en­vi­ron­ment.

In sum­mary then, if smok­ing is your thing, smoke a plain tipped cig­a­rette and, if out and out about, take a small tin with you, to take the fil­ter tip or plain butt for fu­ture safe dis­posal.

A small change in habit will make a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence to our won­der­ful en­vi­ron­ment. An­thony Dunn Can­non­vale

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