Science Fair Cigarette Butts And Their Essay

Submitted By 1999winniewuGmai
Words: 2017
Pages: 9 A cigarette butt or cigar tip dropped to the ground seems insignificant. But follow that butt as it’s carried off by rain into storm drains and eventually to streams and rivers. It now adds up to a big impact on the places we live: In fact, 32% of litter at storm drains is tobacco products.1
Cigarette butt litter creates blight. It accumulates in gutters, and outside doorways and bus shelters. It’s the number one most littered item anywhere. Increasing amounts of litter in a business district, along riverfronts, or recreation areas create a sense that no one cares, leading to more community disorder and crime.2
Cigarette butts and cigar tips don’t disappear. About 95% of cigarette filters are composed of cellulose acetate, a form of plastic which does not quickly degrade and can persist in the environment.3Cigar tips, too, are predominantly plastic.
Filters are harmful to waterways and wildlife. Litter traveling through storm drains and water systems, ends up in local streams, rivers, and waterways. Nearly 80% of marine debris comes from land­based sources. Cigarette butt litter can also pose a hazard to animals and marine life when they mistake filters for food4. Tobacco & the Environment
Cigarette butts are the #1 litter item in the world!
When cigarette butts lay on the ground and start to fall apart they release toxic chemicals.
Did you know?
● Cigarette butts take an average of 1.5 years to break down, but can take up to 12 years to go away.
● Fish, seals, birds and other aquatic animals can mistake the butts as food. When animals eat cigarette butts, they can get sick and even die.
● When it rains, the chemicals contained in cigarette butts get washed through our streets, down our drains, and through storm water pipes and end up in our bays, lakes, rivers, and oceans. The chemicals can be deadly to ocean life.
Chemistry of Cigarettes Chemical

Found in:

carbon monoxide

car exhaust


bug sprays


material to make roads


rat poison


cleaning products

hydrogen cyanide

gas chamber poison


deadly poison


nail polish remover


cigarette lighter fluid




to preserve dead bodies sulfuric acid

car batteries


used to recharge batteries freon

damages earth's ozone layer geranic acid

a fragrance


a pesticide


a sweetener not permitted to be used in foods in the U.S.

Sources: Dr. Joel Dunnington,
Tobacco Almanac, Revised, May

Here are a few of the chemicals in tobacco smoke, and other places they are found:
Acetone – found in nail polish remover
Acetic Acid – an ingredient in hair dye
Ammonia – a common household cleaner
Arsenic – used in rat poison
Benzene – found in rubber cement
Butane – used in lighter fluid
Cadmium – active component in battery acid
Carbon Monoxide – released in car exhaust fumes
Formaldehyde – embalming fluid
Hexamine – found in barbecue lighter fluid
Lead – used in batteries
Naphthalene – an ingredient in moth balls
Methanol – a main component in rocket fuel
Nicotine – used as insecticide
Tar – material for paving roads
Toluene - used to manufacture paint

When you smoke a cigarette, you breathe in some of the following:

tar, a black, sticky substance that contains many poisonous chemical such as: ammonia (found in floor and window cleaner), toluene (found in industrial solvents) and acetone (found in paint stripper and nail polish remover)

nicotine, the addictive drug in tobacco

carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas that reduces the amount of oxygen taken up by a person's red blood cells

hydrogen cyanide, the poison used in gas chambers during World War ll

metals, including lead, nickel, arsenic (white ant poison) and cadmium (used in car batteries)