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Stop littering: Stubbing cigarette butts in soil can hurt growth of plants

The presence of cigarette butts in the soil reduces the germination success.

ANI|
Jul 20, 2019, 05.00 PM IST
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Many smokers think cigarette butts quickly biodegrade and therefore don't really consider them as litter.
WASHINGTON D.C. [USA]: A new research has discovered that cigarette butts, the most common form of litter on the planet, is perhaps responsible for significantly reducing plant growth.

The researchers found that the presence of cigarette butts in the soil reduces the germination success and shoot length (the length of the stem) of clover by 27 per cent and 28 per cent respectively, while root biomass (root weight) reduced by 57 per cent. For grass, germination success reduced by 10 per cent and shoot length by 13 per cent, reported the study published in the journal of Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety.

Most cigarette butts contain a filter made of cellulose acetate fibre, a type of bioplastic. Filters from unsmoked cigarettes had almost the same effect on plant growth as used filters, indicating that the damage to plants is caused by the filter itself, even without the additional toxins released from the burning of the tobacco. Control experiments contained pieces of wood of identical shape and size as the cigarette butts. It is estimated that around 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are littered every year, making them the most pervasive form of plastic pollution on the planet.

Better Skin, More Savings and Other Surprising Benefits Of Saying No To Smoking

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Kick The Butt

11 Jun, 2018
Usually, the urge to smoke lasts only for a few minutes. Every time you feel the need to take a puff, drink lots of water to diminish the urge. One of the main reasons behind the urge to smoke is due to stress. So, keep stress at bay by practicing yoga and involving yourself in therapeutic activities such as dancing, gardening, and playing your favourite sport. Quitting smoking is the best thing you can do to yourself. Giving up smoking can reduce the risk of developing cancer and various other diseases. However, Pooja Duggal, CEO of HealthHunt, shares five other benefits of saying no to smoking.
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"Despite being a common sight littering streets and parks worldwide, our study is the first to show the impact of cigarette butts on plants. We found they had a detrimental effect on the germination success and shoot length of both grass and clover, and reduced the root weight of clover by over half. Ryegrass and white clover, the two species we tested, are important forage crops for livestock as well as being commonly found in urban green spaces. These plants support a wealth of biodiversity, even in city parks, and white clover is ecologically important for pollinators and nitrogen fixation," said the lead author of the study, Dr Dannielle Green.

"Many smokers think cigarette butts quickly biodegrade and therefore don't really consider them as litter. In reality, the filter is made out of a type of bioplastic that can take years, if not decades, to break down. In some parks, particularly surrounding benches and bins, we found over 100 cigarette butts per square metre. Dropping cigarette butts seems to be a socially acceptable form of littering and we need to raise awareness that the filters do not disappear and instead can cause serious damage to the environment," Green added.

"Although further work is needed, we believe it is the chemical composition of the filter that is causing the damage to plants. Most are made from cellulose acetate fibres, and added chemicals which make the plastic more flexible, called plasticisers, may also be leaching out and adversely affecting the early stages of plant development," said the co-author of the study, Dr Bas Boots.

World No Tobacco Day: Smoking Can Hurt Eyes, Bones And Brain

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Thrill Kills

31 May, 2018
Most smokers believe smoking is cool. No matter how you indulge in it, tobacco is harmful to your health. Tobacco contains over 7,000 toxins and 70 known carcinogens (chemicals that increase cancer risk) and can damage nearly every organ of the body. Dr Sachin Kumar, Senior Consultant - Pulmonology at Sakra World Hospital explains how smoking affects every part of your body. The next time you are tempted to take a drag, just pause for a minute and think of the consequences of your indulgence.
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