What’s in a cigarette butt? A cigarette butt contains the remnant tobacco portion of a cigarette, and 165 toxic chemicals. 95% of cigarette filters are made of cellulose acetate, a thermoplastic formed by the reaction of cellulose, acetic acid and acetic anhydride that is slow to degrade in the environment. It may take two months in favorable atmospheric conditions; and up to 3 years or more in seawater for a cigarette butt to degrade (Source: California Waste Management Bulletin).
The South Yuba River clean up is just around the corner and once again, the Nevada County Youth Opposing the Use of Tobacco for Health or Y.O.U.T.H, will be partnering with SYRCL for the 14th annual Great Yuba River Clean Up and Restoration Day. Last year the Nevada County Y.O.U.T.H. Coalition tallied tobacco litter collected from the clean up and shared the results at the Wild and Scenic Film Festival. A total of 7459 cigarette butts were collected from the various sites in 2010.
This year, Y.O.U.T.H. will be hosting a table at the Great River Clean Up, with information of the detriments of tobacco litter on our creeks, streams, aquatic life, and the Yuba River. Cigarette butts are the most littered item accumulating in our waste stream. Worldwide, 4.3 trillion are littered annually. “The EPA’s aquatic bioassay studies provide evidentiary conclusion that one cigarette butt per 2 liters of water is acutely toxic to water fleas ~ a planktonic animal that occupies a critical position in the food chain of aquatic ecosystems by transferring energy and organic matter from algae to higher consumers such as fish. Water fleas are widely used to determine acute toxicity of chemicals in aquatic invertebrates. The 165 toxic chemicals that leach from a cigarettes cellulose acetate filter and remnant tobacco are a biohazard to the water flea. 100% of the animals died after 48 hours in the concentrations that were equivalent to the chemicals found in two or more used cigarette filters.”(Source: US EPA, Aquatic Invertebrate Acute Toxicity Test for Freshwater Daphnids, 1996).
Ingestion of plastic cigarette filters is a serious threat to wildlife. A visible consequence is being witnessed higher up on the food chain by field biologists and wildlife rehabilitators who routinely find cigarette butts in the intestines, stomachs, and X-rays of dead or sick sea turtles, birds, fish, and dolphins. (Source: University of Central Florida, American Association of Poison Control Center).
Y.O.U.T.H. Coalition members will be coordinating local tobacco litter events, conducting community educational presentations, media activities and press releases, receive technical training and support from the California Youth Advocacy Network, The Sierra Club, and increase their perception of themselves as leaders.
Interested Youth may join the Y.O.U.T.H. Coalition by contacting Felicia Sobonya at 265-7018 or firstname.lastname@example.org