Category Archives: Environmental News

New about the environment

No Butts About It

One of my favorite pastimes is taking a nice long walk for exercise and fitness.

On weekends we like to locate a new park to check out, or go to a local neighborhood walking path where we can also enjoy nature.

It’s rare to walk in a park that doesn’t have some tell tale signs of smokers revealed by the cigarette butts along the way. A good percentage of smokers are simply uneducated when it comes to tossing butts and the toxic implications left for nature to defend.

Tracking Litter Offenders

A website you may want to visit is LitterButt.com. They even sell stickers one can display to help create more awareness on this topic. As awareness grows many US states are now implementing new litter laws with stiff fines and requirements of community service for butt tossing offenders.

Butts Sticker

Questioner: So What If I Throw My Butts on the Ground? They’re Biodegradable, Right?

Answer: WRONG!! If you throw your cigarette butts on the ground, they eventually find their way to the ocean and other water sheds and YOU are contributing to the most commonly found man-made waste that originates from land!

“The Ocean Conservancy, a nonprofit environmental organization based in Washington, D.C., compiled the results of a shoreline cleanup day conducted by volunteers last year in 68 countries. It covered a combined 34,000 miles of shoreline and collected 7 million pounds of litter, 80 percent of which had been washed from land into the water. Of the 7.7 million items of debris collected worldwide in 2006, cigarettes and cigarette butts accounted for roughly 1.9 million, the sixth consecutive year they have topped the list.

“People think they are biodegradable,” said Kathryn Novak, coordinator for the Florida branch of the Ocean Conservancy. They’re not, so think before flicking that cigarette butt out the car window.”

Tossed Lit Cigarette Butts Can Cause Fires

Another concern over tossing butts is their potential to start deadly fires. They have been known to start major forest fires, burn down retail buildings, complexes, homes, and cause extensive damage to all types of personal property.

We ask that smokers pay attention to how they discard butts. Please be responsible, and snuff those butts in a proper container. The accumulated butts are probably best disposed of in a toxic waste facility! Really … although that isn’t a requirement.

Tobacco Growers Switching and You Can Too

The US Dept of Agriculture reported that many Tobacco Growers are making a major crop change!

Ditching the harmful effects of farming tobacco to a more sustainable and healthy choice. Farming Tobacco is a nasty business, and even handling the tobacco plant has is unhealthy effects.

This new crop: Stevia. This choice is refreshing due to its benefits for both the consumer and the farmer.

pic-stevia-cropsStevia has been used for centuries in Asia as a natural herbal sweetener that’s perfect for sweetening beverages and foods. You can find Stevia in health stores and natural markets in a pure green leaf form, which is not processed like the white powder versions you can find on the mainstream grocery store shelf. Currently the most recognized consumer brand is Truvia and is made by CocaCola. Its also the second best selling sugar substitute.

Stevia First

Now on the heels of Cargill/Coca Cola comes Stevia First Corp, who is an early-stage agribusiness based in California’s Central Valley growing region. Stevia First reported:

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates stevia intake could eventually replace 20-30% of all dietary sweeteners. The total global sweetener market was estimated at $58.3 billion in 2010.

Click to view >  Stevia First’s Corporate Video

Its exciting to see this new alternative crop becoming a growing agiriindustry and replacing the toxic tobacco crops.  Stevia First stock may be a good one to keep an eye on. For smokers who are quitting Stevia is an excellent sweetener choice to keep from adding a few extra pounds from eating sweets when cravings kick in.

 

 

How Your Cigarette Butts Engage Social Responsibility

In just one hour, one billion cigarette butts around the world are improperly disposed of and merely tossed on the ground.

This is the most prevalent form of litter found globally. In fact, in Western countries cigarette butts account for 50% of litter.

The Doe Fund of New York City commits itself to social responsibility and social engagement by establishing self-help programs, including a street cleaning assignment program where participants continuously clean up the millions of discarded cigarette butts on the streets.

About the Doe Fund

The Doe Fund is an organization that helps homeless, incarcerated, and addicted men and women become self sufficient members of society through a variety of programs. The “Ready, Willing, and Able” program is the Fund’s residential and work skills program designed to help people become self sufficient.

Cigarette Litter

Litter buttsEverywhere we go there are cigarette butts carelessly tossed by someone to the ground. It’s easy to simply walk away from this, but there are many dangers associated with this practice. For one, improper disposal of cigarettes is a fire hazard, with the potential of leading to huge disaster.

These cigarette butts are also extremely toxic, and pollute our ecosystems and water ways with toxins such as arsenic, lead, and cadmium.

Statistics show that in areas where indoor cigarette smoking has been banned, there is a corresponding increase of cigarette litter in that area. In fact, approximately one in three smokers admits to tossing their litter on the ground.

Cigarette litter is not biodegradable. It can take up to twelve years for it to break down. But even well before then, the toxins of the filter and remaining tobacco leach into the environment.

“Please Do Not Throw Your Cigarette Butts on the Ground!”

This is the message brought forth by the participants of the Doe Fund’s “Ready, Willing, and Able” program. As part of the street cleaning assignment, the participants regularly sweep up cigarette litter from the streets of New York City.

This street cleaning assignment has received significant praise for its contributions to revitalizing neighborhoods.

Watch the Short Video

Anticorrosion Benefits for Steel Derived from Cigarette Butts’ Toxins

There are estimates that gauge more than 4.5 trillion cigarette butts litter the streets and ground across the world on an annual basis.

Aside from the displeasing aesthetics of these butts, there are numerous environmental consequences of this toxic litter, including the leaching of chemicals into our waterways.

A team of researchers led by scientist Jun Zhao discovered a new use for this harmful garbage, one that has great benefits for the steel industry.

Putting Those Butts to Use

Chinese researchers from Xi’an Jiaotong University extracted chemicals from cigarette filters and their residual tobacco. The result? A successful transformation of the cigarettes’ chemicals into an anticorrosion treatment for steel.

After soaking the butts collected off the street in water for 24 hours, the researchers were able to identify 9 compounds—including nicotine—in the liquid using infrared and mass spectrometry. Next, the scientists put the solution through an hydrochloric acid process. The resulting solution was then applied on steel disks.

Corrosion Inhibitors

The researchers subjected the steel disks—N80 grade, typical for use in the oil industry—to harsh conditions that should lead the way for corrosion. The steel remained protected by the cigarette butt solution.

In fact, the researchers were successful in preventing corrosion on 95% of the steel disks on which the cigarette butt solution was applied. Zhao speculates the chemicals in the corrosion inhibiting solution coat the metal in a protective surface.

Healthy Steel, Unhealthy Lungs

At last there is a practical application for the cigarette litter found everywhere—from the streets, to the parks, to our waterways, and even our forests. Due to the extreme toxicity of the cigarette butts, there has been no recycling program previously established.

Another benefit from this study is now the steel industry has a new weapon to use in its expensive struggle against steel corrosion.

This research raises another crucial observation: If cigarette butts soaked in water can produce an anti-corrosion solution strong enough to work for steel, just imagine what those same chemicals do to smokers’ lungs and bodies.

Reference: Cigarette Butts Yield a Chemical Rebuttal [http://pubs.acs.org/cen/news/88/i16/8816news3.html]

Nicotine-Based Pesticide May Explain Bee Colony Collapse Disorder

The popular TV show, 60 Minutes has profiled the dying bees. The phenomena, called Colony Collapse Disorder, is still a mystery.

Thousands of bees leave the hive never to return leaving behind a box full of honey. No dead bees are ever found.

Much of the research has not materialized because of a lack of funding even though bees are vital for agriculture.

“If there ain’t no bees, there ain’t no food,” says Rep. Alcee Hastings of Florida.

Crops depend on insects for agricultural pollination, adding more than $15 billion in value to about 130 crops, especially fruits, berries, nuts and vegetables, according to the USDA.

So two Floridians, Florida beekeeper Dave Hackenberg, of Dade City, FL and Lewisberg, PA, and Dave Mendes are on their way to Paris to speak before an international beekeeping conference on the syndrome.

Hackenberg first called the Florida Department of Agriculture two years ago after he noticed bees would leave the hive and never return.

Hackenberg told 60 Minutes in the January broadcast, “I mean, I literally got down and crawled around. I mean, seriously, I got down on my hands and knees and crawled around. And there’s no dead bees. There are no dead bees anywhere. I mean, you can’t find any bees. They flew off someplace,” he recalls.

It’s something he says he’d never seen before. Bees have a sophisticated navigation system using sun and landmarks to return them home, even when they travel up to two miles looking for food.

It may be they know more in France than we do in the U.S. There they have banned the use of a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids. France, Italy, Germany and Slovenia found that the nicotine-based substance impaired the bees’ navigational and foraging abilities.

The insecticide is sold under the name of Poncho, Gaucho and Cruiser, made by Bayer and Syngenta, and put on the seeds prior to planting. The pesticide then moves through a plant’s vascular system. Bees pick up the pollen from the plants and the theory is that the pesticide affects their immune system and behavior.

Kimberly Stoner, an entomologist with the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven has a grant proposal out to study pesticide residues, but her $786,000 grant proposal has not been funded by the USDA. And no such research was funded in the federal farm bill’s $28 million in “specialty crop” grants, despite assurances from members of Congress that funding was forthcoming.

Hackenberg says a report from Minnesota this week found corn syrup fed to honeybees contained eight parts per billion of neonicotinoids.

Beekeepers have appeared on YouTube talking about their suspicions about neonicotinoids:

In Europe, they practice the precautionary principle, where a suspicion of harm sparks action, not reaction to the harm.

Bee Loss Linked to Nicotine-Based PesticideStoner tells the Palm Beach Post, “it puts the burden of proof more on people who market pesticides to show that the claim is unfounded. Here you have to show proof of harm.”

Globally, pathogens, parasites, genetically modified foods, cell phones, and environmental stresses which include pesticides have all been considered.

According to USDA statistics, during the winter of 2007-2008, U.S. beekeepers reported a total loss of 36 percent of the honey bee colonies. Other bee keepers report 50 to 90 percent of their colonies are gone.

Click to learn more > “60 Minutes Story on Bees”

Source:  Jane Akre,  Injuryboard News

EPA Cites, Fines Vector Tobacco for Pesticide Misuse and Safety Issues

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently fined Vector Tobacco Inc. $65,040 for allegedly misusing six pesticides and failing to comply with federal pesticide worker safety laws, the EPA announced today.

Vector Tobacco, a subsidiary of Vector Tobacco Group of Durham, NC, allegedly misused six pesticides during their application at its agricultural research facility in Kekaha, Kauai, in 2005 and 2006.

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture discovered the violations during inspections performed in March and June of 2006.

Worker complaints triggered the initial investigation. Since the inspections, Vector Tobacco has shut down the Kekaha facility.

The EPA said that on 93 occasions, Vector Tobacco failed to follow label directions intended to protect workers from exposure to pesticides, in violation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.

Vector Tobacco also failed to provide its workers and pesticide handlers with required protective equipment, pesticide information, decontamination supplies, safety training, and notification that pesticides had been applied, the EPA said.

Pesticide Misuse in Tobacco IndustryThe tobacco company reportedly failed to prevent workers from entering areas where pesticides had recently been applied, and subsequently denied them prompt transportation to a medical facility after these workers reported averse health effects due to the pesticide exposure.

Source: The Honolulu Advertise

It’s Lights Out New Hampshire!

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services encourages New Hampshire residents to join millions of people around the world on March 29 at 8 p.m. in making a statement about climate change by turning off your lights for one hour.

“Earth Hour” is an event that was created by the World Wildlife Fund in Sydney, Australia in 2007 to reduce energy use and heighten awareness of everyone’s impact on climate change.

In one year the event has grown from an event in one city to a global movement.

In 2008, millions of people, businesses, governments and civic organizations in nearly 200 cities around the globe will turn out for Earth Hour. More than 100 cities across North America will participate.

Turn out the lightsBy participating in this event, New Hampshire residents can take a symbolic step towards making changes that will help to address the impacts of climate change.

Simple things like turning off appliances and lights while not in use, switching your lights to energy efficient bulbs, can make a big difference in reducing your energy use, and can save you money on your electric bill in the process.

To learn more about Earth Hour or sign up to participate, visit EarthHour.org

For more energy saving tips, go to Climate Change