Posts tagged: air pollution

Most People Underestimate The Seriousness Of The Health Effects Of Air Pollution

Most People Underestimate The Seriousness Of The Health Effects Of Air Pollution
Graphic ©

Poor air quality can cause very serious health conditions including lung and heart problems. Air pollution has been linked to a wide variety of health issues, with different types of air pollution responsible for different problems. “Particulate pollution” (consisting of particles as opposed to gases), such as that from smoke and toxic dusts, has been consistently linked to the severest problems – such as lung cancer and other heart/lung disease mortality. The burden of air pollution-related mortalities is especially high in developing countries, especially in Asia. [1]

Breathing Problems: Breathing pollutants and ozone can lead to breathing problems even in healthy individuals. Exposure to outdoor air pollutants can exacerbate the asthma symptoms in already sick people. [2]

Premature Deaths: A regular exposure to high levels of air pollutants can shorten the life-span and can lead to premature deaths in susceptible individuals.

Cardiovascular Disease: Air pollution can increase the risk of both heart attack and stroke. Studies have shown that the incidence of cardiovascular disease was increased in people living in communities with elevated concentrations of air pollutants. [3]

Lung Cancer: Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Air pollution is a modifiable risk factor for lung cancer, which means it can be prevented if exposure to pollutants is decreased. [4]

Developmental Damages: Exposure to air pollutants in children has been linked with slow and stunt development of lungs, and can reduce the lung function when adults.

COPD Worsened: A high level of air pollutants in the environment can worsen the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease symptoms (COPD) and can lead to hospitalization in such patients. [5]

Here’s something you can do: This is interesting – check out these 19 houseplants that clean indoor air (based on NASA research)…


[1] Cohen, A.J., et al., The global burden of disease due to outdoor air pollution. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A, 2005. 68(13-14): p. 1301-1307.

[2] Guarnieri, M. and J.R. Balmes, Outdoor air pollution and asthma. The Lancet, 2014. 383(9928): p. 1581-1592.

[3] Dockery, D.W. and P.H. Stone, Cardiovascular risks from fine particulate air pollution. N Engl J Med, 2007. 356(5): p. 511-513.

[4] Fajersztajn, L., et al., Air pollution: a potentially modifiable risk factor for lung cancer. Nature Reviews Cancer, 2013. 13(9): p. 674-678.

[5] Hansel, N.N., M.C. McCormack, and V. Kim, The effects of air pollution and temperature on COPD. COPD: Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, 2016. 13(3): p. 372-379.

Cigarette Butts Are The Most Polluting Items In The World

Cigarette Butts Are The Most Polluting
Cigarette Butts Are The Most Polluting Items In The World. Graphic © Photo – Pixabay (PD).

Worse even than plastic straws, food wrappers, beverage bottles, and plastic bags – cigarette butts (filters) are regarded as one of the most polluting items on our planet. According to National Geographic, trillions of cigarette filters (over 2 billion pounds of waste) are casually flung into the environment annually, leading to devastating environmental effects.

What makes Cigarette Butts Harmful

Contrary to popular opinion, conventional cigarette butts are not easily biodegradable. They are made from a plastic known as cellulose acetate, which takes several years to degrade. [1] As shown in a 2010 study, the littered cigarette butts also contain tons of chemicals (some of which as known carcinogens) that are harmful to various lifeforms. [2]

According to a study published in the Journal of Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, “littered cigarette filters reduce growth and alter short-term primary productivity of terrestrial plants.” [3] And as shown by this disturbing image, the butts are also hazardous to birds and marine life. [4] Aside from their negative effects on the flora and fauna, cigarette butts are an eyesore in our waterways, beaches, parks, and streets.

The Concept of Eco-Friendly Butts

Despite the increasing consumer awareness of the health repercussions of cigarette smoking and the enforcement of strict laws against cigarette manufacturing around the globe, the number of smokers is still staggering. Nearly 18 billion cigarettes are bought every day. [5]

Judging from the prevalence of cigarette smoking and the significant environmental and ecological impact of littered buds, the need to find a sustainable solution is more important than ever. With this in mind, a group of entrepreneurs developed eco-friendly cigarette filters (known by the brand name ‘Karma’) that decompose within a month, before sprouting into different varieties of trees.

The butts are made from a sustainable biodegradable pulp with seeds safely embedded into the paper. For those who are unable or unwilling to give up, after you’re done puffing on your cigarette, mindfully dispose of the filter and leave it to sprout new life.


[1] Comparison of cellulose vs. plastic cigarette filter decomposition under distinct disposal environments


[3] Cigarette butts have adverse effects on initial growth of perennial ryegrass (gramineae: Lolium perenne L.) and white clover (leguminosae: Trifolium repens L.)

[4] Disturbing Photo Shows a Black Skimmer Feeding a Cigarette Butt to Its Chick

[5] Cigarette butts are toxic plastic pollution. Should they be banned?