Friday, May 14, 2010

The Butt of the Problem

The journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research published a paper this week about cigarette butts. China, where the authors are from, has 300 million smokers and consumes 1/3 of the world's cigarettes. According to the article, approximately 4.5 trillion (yeah, that wasn't a typo) are tossed into the environment annually. These butts can last up to 15 years in the sea and are known to contain ingredients that are toxic to fish. The authors were able to identify nine different chemicals when they immersed cigarette butts in water. They applied these extracts to N80, a steel used in oil pipes, and found that the chemicals protected the pipes from rusting, even under harsh conditions. This discovery could potentially save the oil industry millions of dollars ('cause they need more money) in pipe repair and replacement, and it is a novel use for a big litter problem (a better reason in my opinion).

Here's some links:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science_and_environment/10116050.stm
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE64C10W20100513
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