Letter: The butt-ugly truth

Cigarette butt litter is a worldwide pollution problem that needs to be addressed.

To the editor:

According to World Health Organization, it is estimated that over 15 billion cigarettes are sold each day worldwide.

Over 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are littered worldwide every year – that is about two billion pounds of chemical trash. Cigarette filters are the #1 trash item found worldwide and only 10 per cent  are properly disposed of.

It rains a lot in Vancouver; on an annual basis in the greater Vancouver region we encounter about 1,200 mm of rain.

When it does rain, butts from all over town get washed into storm drains carried by wind and rain, and they empty right into our water source. They pollute our water, and are ingested by wildlife. Often these filters are mistaken as food by fishes, birds and other marine mammals.

Not just thousands, not even hundreds of thousands, but millions upon millions of filters end up in our eco-system.

Filters release the same toxic and cancer causing chemicals found in cigarettes such as; Benzene (chemical derived from petroleum), Ethylphenol and Arsenic.

It can actually take up to 15 years for filters to degrade because of the Cellulose Acetate, a plastic material that makes up the filters.

Cigarette filters are toxic solid waste, and they negatively impact our water chemistry. The chemicals leach out of discarded butts into our streams, rivers and eventually into the Pacific Ocean.

They may be small in size; however, these little butts have the ability to do some major damage in our aquatic eco-system.

They negatively affect the health of animals that humans may eventually consume as food, jeopardizing our long term health and wellbeing. .

Smokers who treat outdoor spaces as public ashtrays may reconsider their behaviour when they learn that cigarette butts are made of plastic, not of cotton and paper. Worse, that cigarette butts contain chemicals that can kill some of the animals that occupy critical positions in aquatic communities.

It is important that we don’t end this topic of conversation, in order to decrease this source of pollution. The possession of knowledge is power; that alone, can alleviate the problems we face today.

Vanessa Vuen S. Parrenas

Grade 12 student, RC Palmer Secondary School

Richmond

Just Posted

RCMP hunt for suspect in West Kelowna bank robbery

Suspect used a note and fled bank Saturday with an undisclosed amount of cash

Community Leader Awards: Shelley Pacholok

The Kelowna Capital News honours those who give back in the community

International Arts Festival returns to Kelowna

Living Things is a month-long festival with live performances by artists from around the world

Legion bell prank hits sour note

Anger erupts after Summerland Legion member removes bell from Peachland Legion

Kelowna Art Gallery members’ exhibition offers variety of media

Encounters will be held from Dec. 2 to Feb. 3

Vehicle with dog inside stolen from Oliver gas station

A black Honda CRV was stolen from the Oliver Chevron early Sunday morning

Team Canada loses 5-2 over the Czech Republic at World Junior A Challenge

Vees’ Tychonick drops in one of Team Canada West’s pair of goals

Site C decision coming Monday

Premier John Horgan to announce fate of dam project at B.C. legislature

PIGS bring Pink Floyd sound to Kelowna

Victoria band pays tribute to iconic British band on Feb. 10 at Mary Irwin Theatre

Letter: Another flagger dies; when will you slow down?

You have all seen our signs, trucks and my favorite our cones. Why don’t you slow down?

Kelowna-developed technology to be unveiled at Summerhill

Kelowna winery and tech company introduces new technology for phone or tablet

California couple name daughter after Revelstoke

Revy Elle Atashroo was born on Nov. 27. Her name honours the town her parents loved exploring.

Most Read