tv Close up - Cigarette Butts - Poisoning the Environment Deutsche Welle October 2, 2018 3:15am-3:45am CEST
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cigarettes cause sickness and death they don't just calm people they also laid waste to the environment many of the toxic dangers lurk in cigarette butts. it's all been up to me given the amount of nicotine they contain cigarettes are hazardous waste many people don't see the problem or even regard the butts as trash . growing tobacco is resource intensive and requires large amounts of pesticides huge areas of rain forest like here in africa for example have been cleared to make way for plantations. as they go nine it is a regional catastrophe and it doesn't just change the local climate but makes rain less frequent and beneficial insects don't come in that. intensive tobacco farming and discarded cigarette butts cigarettes are an environmental problem.
amy cream is on the hunt for old cigarette stops for research purposes the american scientist works at butlins technical university she's looking for places where lots of cigarettes are discarded like the entrance to this railway station. she wants to find out how long it takes for the toxic substances to leach out of the stops. no other treasure so casually fried away on the street a cigarette butts. on average she finds about three per square meter of course it's a lot more in some places. this is the island at the entrance to the suburban railway you find
a lot of stubs because people are rushing to get their train. and they don't have time to finish their cigarettes to get out. there's still quite a lot of tobacco in the bus. and that's how the more tobacco there is the more nicotine to of course. the butts may be small but they still contain nicotine. even if city authorities clean this area regularly it would be impossible to remove them all. as the number of bots accumulates served as the poison they contain. the ones it isn't as you can see there are lots of bicycles locked up here and if you can't get in here with a broom i can only really pick them up by hand and no one goes to the trouble of kind of life they stay here and the next town rains the nicotine will be washed out and then enter the sewage system through the storm drains roost on done in the
office and up with the spices getting equal as time it takes or just a few minutes to collect an entire bag of bots will have study. in the office and in front of this station alone there are probably thousands of bots and the numbers grow every day we can be sure that a high concentration of nicotine is being released here every time it rains i guess it's. worldwide approximately five point six trillion cigarettes up and sealed ideally want a half trillion of them end up being discarded outdoors on the pavement or down storm drains. in the northern german city of hamburg still far it is a busy or here around trying to keep the one hundred thirty storm drains free of stubs. the trash that's extracted is later burned in an incinerator. but if those stubs
and the toxins within them actually reach the serape system they become a problem. but are bad first of all they're trash and belong in the trash can it gift nicotine is a toxin that pollutes the rain water runoff and then can get into the sewage system as. waste water needs to be cleaned but the microorganisms in the sewage treatment plant aren't there to eliminate nicotine. they're also not able to completely eliminated it it's almost impossible to completely remove nicotine from waste water plant. here at the hamburg sewage works the microbes intended to tackle nicotine are not one hundred percent effective. and the size of cigarette filters is a further problem most slip through the screening units that have to be removed
using final filters before being incinerated otherwise the stubs would end up in the elbe river and of course butts tossed straight into rivers and lakes affect the water directly. cigarette stubs contain more than four thousand toxins some in the tobacco itself some in the filter other toxins are created during the burning process they include a snake and dangerous heavy metals like lead and copper but it's nicotine that has the most immediate effect on flora and fauna. nicotine is a nicotine is a very potent one or zero talks and it was used in farming because it's very good at killing little creatures it's plenty institute. with the aid of a special machine the research a wants to find out how much nicotine the bots release into the environment. she. particularly interested in what happens to the
toxin when it comes into contact with water when it rains for example. the toxins from the stubs that amy greene has collected have already been washed out so she's producing her own butts three point seven centimeters long the average length of a discarded cigarette. according to e.u. regulations tobacco waste products containing more than half a mil a gram of nicotine should be categorized as dangerous. but scientists then exposes the bots that she has created some artificial rain showers the water runs over them leeching out the nicotine inside she analyzes this water the findings on average cigarette butt releases two milligrams of nicotine into the environment in some cases as much as six that's four to twelve times over the danger limit.
must think if we have discovered that the nicotine dissolves in a very quickly it's water soluble some sixty percent of the nicotine leeches out just after two rain showers. it takes just half an hour for the majority of the nicotine to leach out and pollute the water. the consequences of this process of being studied in san diego smoking bans in california a much stricter than in germany and they also apply on the beach you can expect a fine for smoking here. thomas not got any is a public health expert and c.e.o. of the cigarette butt pollution project he's made it his mission to curb the damage done by cigarette butts. the results of his research. alarming. he's revealed that
nicotine and want to homs the creatures living in it. he's experimenting with young rainbow trout at the moment that swimming in clean water. professor novotny would release them into a wheelchair polluted with nicotine. ten bucks for every four liters of water. well they're preparing the leach eight which means these cigarette butts are sort of like a tea bag they. will emit some of the chemicals that we think are toxic to living creatures and would be a way of getting some exposure in an aquatic environment for fish and other animals that might be affected by sugar but waste. the water is mixed with a nicotine leech eight and allowed to stand overnight. the research is then poor
this mixture into an aquarium. they introduce the young rainbow trout from the clean water aquarium into the nicotine by. after just a few seconds the fish reacts to trust it's just a few but then more and more are affected by the nicotine. they look paralyzed. some. of those tunnel myside twitch. the creatures go into toxic shock. we found that one cigarette but leader water kills half the fish that are exposed to that water and. days that we call the lethal dose fifty in this experiment and
you can see that there are now some cute facts of the fish that have just been placed into this. the chariots of ten votes for leader and the fish are experiencing some sort of neurological toxicity i mean it's not surprising aside from the solution that we've created here and clearly these fish are suffering from that exposure. after just a few minutes some of the fish recover from the shock but if they stayed in the water for longer the toxins would kill them. professor novotny and his team prepare a chemical analysis of the bodies of the contaminated fish that did not survive the earlier experiments. the researches find toxic substances from the cigarette butts stored in the fish's bodies.
novotny and his colleagues fear the impact on humans. there is no on tobacco kolo it's and there are naturally present in the tobacco and tobacco smoke and they are in the lead of the cigarette butts but in the more important some of this are highly accumulated. so that means that if we eat the fish and there we are exposed to those chemicals that. the neurotoxin nicotine moves through the food chain back to humankind. professor novotny believes that cigarette filters play a big row. i think what we have to think about is not picking up cigarette butts not just going on collecting because that's not going to do very much good we might collect a million of them and it still wouldn't touch the burden there we need to look at ways of regulating this product from an environmental standpoint and the number one
objective but i have to ban the sale of pill to cigarettes. without filters smokers will be exposed to even more toxins so it's a radical proposal. but it's one that at least spares other creatures and the environment. this is i would. code like that we really have to you know scientifically we think that we. just call it a cigarette butts in the environment and that we think that they're just gone you know and they're not going to be harmful some of them away but in the end it's coming back to us. smoking isn't banned on this beach on germany's baltic state and even though it's officially frowned upon people still smoke cigarette butts are the most common form of refuse found on the. which. coastal
environmentalists in fundamental discovered that in a number of little collecting initiatives. they've responded by installing several receptacles for the cigarette ends. to me like how long should have been twenty meters and fifteen meters in the meter but the environmentalist want to do more than that they want to change the behavior of the smokers. in just a few minutes they find fifty bucks in a small radius around one of the ashtrays that. it's not just the toxins in the cigarette ends that are the problem it's the material itself that the filter is made from. as it is in him tear we can see some here where the cigarette filter is still covered with paper and the ones that are older it has
a board where the papers no longer there it has already detached and probably brought it from that but it's the filter that's the problem is the sony most acetate isn't biodegradable we know from fresh water studies that a filter like this needs roughly ten to fifteen years to decompose in some water if we put this into the sea many can take up to four hundred years for something like this to decompose over for that's. that's how long filters can inflict damage in the sea. the german cigarette association the tobacco industry lobby here has a different view. you haven't heard all the normal cigarette filters made from cellulose acetate are biodegradable i guess they require a certain amount of time and that varies to. the way they decompose in the soil
depends a bit on. the degree of exposure to like it depends how it decomposes in water that's a longer process now and we're working together with the manufacturers in the chemicals industry to reduce these tires bands that tighten this for quite some. of the german company that has already produced a filter to made from paper that decomposes in just a few weeks. the firm has long manufactured filters full roll your own cigarettes finot than the conventional ones but identical apart from that. smoke that has passed through normal filters made from cellulose acetate feels less harsh according to managing director christiane hints. but the disadvantage is that the fighters are dense get counted up and as a result of less biodegradable than paper filter tips. here's the middle classes are made but here we see the classic method for producing our suited filters not just in our company but throughout the industry. when you put it
stretches like elastic. thus far this is going to fall do not itself like in war but. not much of that was not thrown but now this material is from the paper filter machine. well of course that also passes through the machinery that far but you can already see the differences as far as biodegrade ability is considerable work out argue. this machine produces filter tapes made from unbleached paper that are then folded together it was a magically at the moment it's the only one of its kind in germany the unbelief paper isn't very popular with some customers the drawer isn't a smooth and the smoke is harsher some cigarette manufacturers started using the paper filters but then gave up again. but he's at once to stick with the new caps despite the extra work involved.
because i'm to put this is the whole process is more expensive as i'm slower and the output is considerably smaller but theoretically at least every one of the units three can do it if they try to understand what. the filters may decompose more quickly in the environment but the problem with the toxins inside remains. when bazza just flicked away no one feels responsible for them despite later collection efforts from local pressure groups and green organizations like here in the eastern german city of floods. they say that people aren't aware of the scale of the problem. every year cigarettes generate an incredible volume of waste. a lot less miles how many cigarette butts out there well why
then flights worldwide about four and a half trillion and if we place the butts into any time they would encircled the earth two times over that's how many bodies there are and it's not just raising awareness with smokers i think it should really be classified as hazardous waste. so on your phone i phone is meeting with the mail i spy it. even politicians and public officials aren't always aware of the danger that cigarette butts posed to the environment. as it in the us to be to get this for a first important lesson for me was to learn just how toxic stubs are and what a burglary or the environment might have to admit i didn't know that i hadn't thought about it something has to be done to ensure cigarette butts end up where they belong with. one discarded cigarette might seem harmless but they add up. annually discarded bots worldwide generate a mountain of trash estimated to weigh seven hundred and fifty thousand tons.
and cigarettes also cause other types of environmental degradation. sagna for ice borne collects information about tobacco plantations worldwide an emerging or developing economies such as in africa and tile forests are cleared to make way for tobacco good. is also used in the drying process in tanzania and malawi five hundred to six hundred square kilometers of woodland are cleared annually for this purpose alone globally that amounts to two thousand square kilometers an area roughly the size of rio de janeiro or cairo egypt. and deforestation is not the only problem tobacco crops also remove nutrients from the soil then. went to back it was planted after two or three years the ground is so lived out that nothing will grow there for a long time afterwards. i haven't found the line in me yet and if the soil is dry
and promptly in areas like southern africa then it i wrote and leaves the desert like conditions that are all. tobacco is a sensitive crop and requires a lot of cash for most farmers artificial fertilizers and other chemicals are essential. that are wrong about tobacco cultivation requires a very intensive use of pesticides because it's a monoculture and in every type of monoculture there are certain types of pasts that can wipe out all the crops and that's why a lot of it has to science are you trying to have many different ones including some that are banned here again and as is always the case with cast aside they don't leech into the soil and remain there or are washed into the ground water. five point six trillion cigarettes
a year is big business. in germany alone the turnover amounts to more than twenty billion euro zone you really. the german cigarette association says tobacco is not a major cause of deforestation. they cite studies that claim the toxicity of nicotine depends on its concentration and offer pocket sized ashtrays to deal with sick. but that's we have to. go of course people have become more environmentally aware and consumers pay a lot more attention to the way products are made they have every right to you know and it's right that the industry should be put under more pressure to create these products more carefully and check entire supply chains more closely. it's in our own interests to take a long term and sustainable approach so that these products are deemed acceptable and that consumers are kept informed. so there
is concern for the environment but only when it's customer driven. tobacco can be grown organically as it is here in southwestern germany like his grandfather and father before him marcus fischer is a farmer as well as growing tobacco conventionally he also cultivates it organically without the use of chemical fertilizers pesticides or insecticides that's a lot more work for the tobacco farmer but it's better for the environment as. it comes at a price. a key level tobacco is about to hear as more expensive than conventional tobacco. in. organic agriculture it's not like i can just take a sack of fertilizer and dump it in. there really is biological we'll use dried
cow pants dissolved in water and as we say locally. even tadpoles a happy here that wouldn't be the case in conventional tobacco. we treat the field with an agent to kill the wire worms that would probably kill the tadpoles. if you would manage to survive but you wouldn't see such a swarm of conventionally formed plants as you do among new york. we'd grass grow on the organic tobacco field and can't be treated with artificial pesticides a lot of environmentally aware smokers happily pay the price of organic tobacco but it has a difficult future in germany. in europe it's no longer allowed to describe itself as natural pure after the consumer advice agency brought a quarter action they say the advertising is potentially misleading as cigarettes
also damage your health. yeah maybe that's the problem is that consumers tend to understand these terms as having very positive connotations and could then it is cigarettes really harmful to their house and unfortunately that's not the case if i had. the industry is now likely to turn its back on the organic farmers because they can no longer expect to attract added sales through advertising marcus fisher now plans to plant maize or wheat on his organic field no manufacturer is prepared to buy organic tobacco to make normal cigarettes it's too expensive he blames the consumer protection advocates. what today. as you can see american spirit made lots of swag shirts raincoats and such and then two years ago i got a call. they told us we had to destroy all the t. shirts because they were no longer allowed to bear the words natural american
spirit. only american spirit i think that's sad it's an organically produced product like cauliflower broccoli it's organically grown tobacco. why shouldn't it be called natural. that's pretty perplexing for tobacco grower like me. and talked long. the. organic tobacco is better for the environment in terms of conservation but that's still the problem with the toxins in the filter. for decades smokers are being used to fall asleep flicking away that cigarette butts modifying that behavior will be difficult and it's not just the environmentalists from amanda who thinks. smokers like to get rid of their stubs as quickly and easily as possible research has proved that. that's common in the us we found out that they estimated they would walk at least twenty meters but we could see from
the data that they only walked ten meters easy game. and an ashtray every ten meters is pretty unrealistic. even if it were possible thomas novotny in san diego believes that many smokers are resistant to change. while this is a you know an effective way that it publicizes the issue i think by having it here very visible and tells people why they're doing this it's not just an ashtray this place out here in front of the smoke shop but as you can see that even though there's this facility and there's after syllabi right here there's. a but. professor novotny believes that the buck should stop with the tobacco industry he thinks manufacturers must pay more attention to environmental factors but in terms of tobacco cultivation and the toxic waste created by filters he hopes that
stricter laws will force them to do so. and what we need to do is try to change the product so that the behavior doesn't matter nearly as. well the important thing is the ban the feel for the cigarettes i mean i think that's a simple. offer. any money to do for the tobacco industry that people won't be smoking these products that are harder to smoke but i think what we're end up with is a far safer. road to do this but we should also i think people are going to be thinking twice about their smoking reduce the quantity that they're smoking anyway and that will help. his vision is quite simple without filters there would be fewer smokers and fewer problems for the environment.
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