Tag Archives: environmental toxins

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.

Workings Farming Tobacco

The Poverty Trap of Tobacco Farmers in Developing Countries

To keep up with the demand for tobacco, transnational tobacco companies and manufacturers encourage farmers in developing countries to grow the plant.

This crop has been promoted as a solution to the extensive poverty these farmers experience.

Tobacco farmers receive low wages, put in long hours to tend to this intensive crop, and all benefits are had by the tobacco industry.

Intensive Labour Met with Low Wages & Returns

Tobacco is one of the most labour intensive crops. Almost everything, from seeding to harvesting, is done by hand. Farmers in developing countries enlist the help of the entire family to tend to the plants, including young children. As a result, these children miss out on valuable educational experiences that could serve as the key to breaking the poverty cycle.

Workings Farming Tobacco

Hiring extra labour is difficult for the farmers as well, as it is expensive to cover the wages for workers when the work day can last 16 hours or more and the return on investment is very low. Many tobacco farmers are lucky to break even at the end of the year, while others experience very low return for their hard work: for example, one farmer in Vietnam earns $250 US for every $130 US he invests.

Health & Safety Concerns of Tobacco Farming

The potential for tobacco farmers to be diagnosed with Green Tobacco Sickness (GTS) is high. GTS occurs when nicotine is absorbed from handling wet green tobacco leaves. Symptoms of this illness include: nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, headaches, dizziness, cramps, respiratory problems, and blood pressure fluctuations.

These farmers are also exposed to extensive pesticides and chemical fertilizers, which can lead to skin rashes, dehydration, sleeping difficulties, and lung problems.

Environmental Concerns from Tobacco Crops

Farming tobacco plants creates environmental degradation. The pesticides and chemicals that are applied to the plants pollutes the fields and leeches nutrients from the soil. in the curing process, farmers use coal, a major air polluter, and massive amounts of wood. In fact, approximately 200,000 hectares of wood is used annually in the curing process around the world.

Substitute Crops

The governments of many developing countries are promoting to tobacco farmers other crops to diversify. For example, the Malaysian government has since 2005 offered financial incentives for tobacco farmers to substitute their growing operations with more sustainable, less labour intensive crops that yield higher financial returns, such as:

  • corn, rice, barely
  • kenaf and jathropa
  • dragon fruit, pineapple, sweet potato, and banana

To learn more about this poverty cycle, watch this informational short film.

The Tobacco Trap: Cycle of Poverty

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

Without Water We are Nothing

In my travels around the internet today I ran across an exceptionally interesting article that I felt we must share with you.

On a larger scale our planet is fueled by water and without water, our planet could not sustain life.

I think that every human on this planet has been touched by tainted water supplies. We are all 1-3 degrees connected via toxins, drugs, or skewed DNA. We can’t get away from it.

On a smaller scale the human body is fueled by our blood supply and without blood we cannot exist

With ten pints of blood the heart can pump enough through the arteries to get to our lungs and every other tissue in our body! The connectedness of water and blood leaves me wondering if perhaps we are all addicts to the substances pumped into our environment?

[BARCELONA, SPAIN] — Researchers from the University of Barcelona and water corporation Group Agbar have found that conventional drinking water treatment sequences can remove “drugs of abuse,” both legal and illegal, from contaminated water, according to a recent article in Environmental Science & Technology.

The researchers took samples of water from Spain’s Llobregat River and its tributaries, where more than 55 treatment plants dump their treated wastewater. Sampling was performed at more than a dozen sites during different seasons over a one year period, followed by one year of regular monitoring.

The group tested for drugs such as LSD, phencyclidine (PCP), cocaine, ecstasy, caffeine and nicotine. Data shows the river was flooded with caffeine and trace levels of nicotine, and contained about 15 grams of cocaine per day, according to the article. Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), which is known by the street name ecstasy, was also found.

The water was free from drugs after undergoing water treatment procedures, such as aluminum-based coagulants and flocculants, sand filters, ozone, and chlorination, according to the article.

Researchers also observed that cocaine and ecstasy levels spike during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday season, and levels of cocaine and benzoylecgonine, one of cocaine’s metabolites, spike after weekends. Nicotine and caffeine concentrations are steady year around, with slight increases in the summer and decreases in the fall, according to the article.

Clean Drinking Water Assists DetoxResearchers now question if drugs will be removed effectively if a more simple water treatment method is applied. Also in question is the type of disinfection byproducts that can be generated while treating water contaminated with these drugs, according to the article.
Source: EBSCO Industries