tv Close up - Cigarette Butts - Poisoning the Environment Deutsche Welle October 3, 2018 5:15am-5:45am CEST
it's all up to make given the amount of nicotine they contain cigarettes are hazardous waste and many people don't see the problem or even regard the bugs as trash. growing tobacco is only source 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. death is like you're not a regional catastrophe and it doesn't just change the local climate but makes rain less frequent and beneficial insects don't come. intensive tobacco farming and discarded cigarette butts cigarettes are an environmental problem. amy kremer is on the hunt for old cigarette stops for research purposes the
american scientist works of poland's 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. in. no other trash or so casually thrown away on the street as 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's less fun at the entrance to the suburban railway i think 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 the rinse 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 months 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 kind of life they stay here and the next hour it rains the nicotine will be washed out and then enter the sewage system through the storm drains the roost on get done in all of us listen up with the spices given equally sometimes it takes a just a few minutes to collect an entire bag of butts will have study. we will often fall
in front of this station alone there are probably thousands of buts 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 its. worldwide approximately five point six trillion cigarettes are concealed annually four and 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 all year around trying to keep the one hundred thirty storm drains free of stops. the trash that's extracted is later burned in an incinerator. but if those stubs and the toxins within them actually reach the cyrix system they become a problem. but are bad first of all they're trash and belong in the
trash can gift nicotine as a toxin pollutes the rain water runoff and then can get into the sewage system is a. big 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. 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 and 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 arsenic 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 neuro toxin 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's particularly interested in what happens. the toxin when it comes into contact with water when it rains for example.
the toxins from the stubs that amy green 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 mill a gram of nicotine should be categorized as dangerous. to scientists then exposes the bots that she's created to artificial rain showers the water runs over them leeching out the nicotine inside she analyzes this water of findings on average cigarette but 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 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 novotny 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 are 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 lease 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 the nicotine leach eight and allowed to stand overnight. the research is then pour this mixture into an aquarium. they introduce the young rainbow trout from the clean water aquarium into the nicotine
but. after just a few seconds the fish reacts to trust it's just a few but then more and more are affected by then they can seem. to go paralyzed. some. of those tunnel myside twitch. the creatures go into talk sick shall. we found that one cigarette butt or water kills half the fish that are exposed to that water in about four days that we call the lethal both 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 cheats of ten votes for leader of the state and the fish are
experiencing some sort of neurological toxicity i mean it's not surprising aside from. heavy metals and ethanol and some other chemicals that nicotine is probably the key element that's produced in the syrup but 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 researchers 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 i call zero it's and there are naturally present in the tobacco into about. and then they are in the lead of the cigarette butts but in the more important some of these are highly a few really into fish so that means that if we eat the fish and there we are exposed to those chemicals. the mural talks in nicotine moves through the food chain back to humankind. professional vulcan he believes that cigarette filters play a big role. 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 over a minute still wouldn't touch the burden there we'd need to look at ways of doing
this product from an environmental standpoint and the number one objective that i have is to ban the sale of film to cigarettes. without filters smokers will be exposed to even more talk seems so it's a radical proposal. but it's one that at least spares other creatures and the environment. this is i would. hope 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 the way but i know it's coming back to us . smoking isn't banned on this beach on germany's baltic states and even though it's officially frowned upon people still smoke cigarette butts are the most common form of refuse found on the. beach. the. coastal
environmentalists in front of winter discovered that in a number of litter collecting initiatives. they've responded by installing several receptacles for the cigarette ends. to me like how long should it be 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. 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 india we can see some here where the cigarette filter is still covered with paper and the ones that are older it doesn't what is where the paper's 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 salt water if we put this into the sea many can take up to four hundred years for something like this to decompose so 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 have inferred our normal cigarette filters made from cellulose acetate are biodegradable i guess ever acquires a certain amount of time and that very stew and the way they decompose in the soil
depends a bit. the degree of exposure to like it depends how wood decomposes in water that's a longer process and we're working together with the manufacturers in the chemicals industry to reduce these tire spans that tighten this for quite some. of the german company that has already produced a filter tape made from paper that decomposes in just a few weeks. the firm has long manufactured filters for roll your own cigarettes finot than the conventional ones but identical apart from that. smokeless is 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 dead come dark and as a result are less biodegradable than paper filter tips. here's a medical officer made so here we see the classic method for producing our suited filters not just in our company but throughout the industry. and when you pull it
it stretches like elastic that. five of the kind of fall do not itself like in war but. not much of them on their own but now this material is from the paper filter mission. well of course that also passes through the machinery that far but you can already see the differences as far as biodegrade ability is concerned will work under. 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 unbleached paper isn't very popular with some customers the draw 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 tips despite the extra work involved.
that doesn't support this is the whole process is more expensive if i'm slower and the output is considerably smaller but theoretically at least everyone in the industry can do it if they tried who cannot 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 letter collection efforts from local pressure groups and green organizations like here in the eastern german city of crisis what. they say that people aren't aware of the scale of the problem. every year cigarettes generate an incredible volume of waste. much less much else how many cigarette butts out there world wide their clients
worldwide about four and a half trillion and if we place the butt end to end they would encircled the earth two times over that's how many bites there are and it's not just raising awareness with smokers it should really be classified as hazardous waste. sun your phone i phone is meeting with them a lifestyle that. even politicians and public officials aren't always aware of the danger that cigarette butts posed to the environment. as if he has to be to get it is for first important lesson for me was to learn just how toxic my 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 born collects information about tobacco plantations worldwide in a merging 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 to back across also remove nutrients from the soil in order went to back it was planted after two or three years the ground is so little doubt that nothing will grow there for a long time afterwards go order. from there lining it and if the soil is dry and
promptly in areas like southern africa then it and roads and leaves the desert like conditions without. 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 every type of monoculture there are certain types of pasts that can wipe out all the crops that's why a lot of it has to sides or you tried many different ones including some that are banned here. and as is always the case with pesticides they don't leech into the soil and remain there or are washed into the ground water. five point
six trillion cigarettes again is big business. in germany alone the turnover amounts to more than twenty billion euro zone you only. 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 often pocket sized ashtrays to deal with sick. right but that we have. 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. 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 fisher is a pharma 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 yet it comes at a price. a key level to back is about to hear as more expensive than conventional tobacco. in pure gold on volition and in organic agriculture it's not like i can just take a sack of fertilizer and dump it in. here really is biological we use dried
co-parents dissolved in water and as we say locally. even tadpoles a happy here that wouldn't be the case in conventional tobacco. we treated field crocs 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 your going to want in the. weeds and grass grow on me 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 or pure after the consumer advice agency brought a court action they say the advertising is potentially misleading as nic 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 think the cigarettes were less harmful to their health and unfortunately that's not the case defied. 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 are they. 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 korea would 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. 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 have been used to fall asleep flicking away their cigarette butts modifying that behavior will be difficult and it's not just the environmentalists for one amanda who thinks. smokers like to get rid of their stubs as quickly and easily as possible research has proved that. it's common in all this 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 is a game. and an ashtray every ten meters is pretty unrealistic. even if it were possible thomas in the vault me in san diego believes that many smokers are resistant to change. while this is a you know ineffective 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 afa syllabi right here there's. a but. the processing of our meat believes that the buck should stop with the tobacco industry he thinks manufacturers must pay more attention to environmental factors both in terms of tobacco cultivation and the toxic waste created by filters he
hopes that stricter laws will force them to do so. and more we need to do is try to change the product so that the behavior doesn't matter nearly as. well the important thing is that banfield cigarettes i mean i think that's a simple. off. 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. drug to do this but we should also think people are going to be thinking twice about their smoking reduce the quantity that they're smoking anyway and mental health. is a vision is quite simple without filters there would be fewer smokers and fewer problems for the environment.
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