Wednesday 27 April 2011

Junk Scientists Found!

Just a quickie because I hadn't intended to make a big thing of this, being execrable bollocks such as it is. But seeing as it reared its nonsensical head during conversations in that real life thing, as well as being e-mailed to me by a couple of readers ... and has now popped up in the comments to one of Anna Raccoon's articles today, perhaps an explanation is required.

It's regarding this, based on testimony from experts at San Diego State University.

A single butt with just a tiny amount of tobacco left in it was enough to turn one litre of water toxic and kill 50 per cent of species swimming in it, it was claimed.
Followed by blah, blah, blah, 'Leachates', blah, blah, blah, 'toxicity', blah, blah, blah, zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

The study appears in that font of impartial wisdom, The Tobacco Control Journal. But in case that doesn't set the alarms off on your bullshit-o-meter, perhaps this - ahem - coincidence from June last year will (emphases mine).

TRDRP Call for Applications

Request for Proposals for TRDRP Initiative on Thirdhand Smoke and Cigarette Butts

The Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program (TRDRP) announces a Request for Proposals (RFP) to undertake studies on Thirdhand Smoke and Cigarette Butt Waste, under a new initiative.

Approximately $3.75 million is expected to be available for this RFP.
California's Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program appear to have just enriched San Diego State University quite handsomely for producing exactly what was required of them.

They're not alone, either. All of a sudden, 2011 has thrown up a whole host of studies all on the subject of cigarette butts.

Last year - under the headline "Junk Scientists Wanted" - VGIF reported on TRDRP's clarion call for junk scientists of every stripe to step up to the plate and claim some free cash.

Looks like they found them with no trouble whatsoever.


James Higham said...

Time all these bozos butted out of this issue. [Sorry, couldn't resist it.] It is astounding though how all these studies are turning up now.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Sometimes at parties, people drop their cigarette butts into half full bottles of beer.

If you let it stew for a while and then drink it in desperation at four in the morning when everything else has been downed, the butts give the beer a wonderful nutty aftertaste.

An acquired taste, I'll admit, but hey, I'm still here to tell the tale.

Anonymous said...

"50 per cent of species swimming in it, it was claimed."

But species of what?

Forgive the long post but this is one of my favourites, dredged from the web archive.

Bees for Development Trust UK

Use of tobacco smoke against parasitic mite syndrome

"The pathological condition that has appeared in Iraqi apiaries recently has caused large losses in honeybee colonies, dwindling populations and decreasing honey production. It is perhaps similar to the condition described by Dr Shimanuki as The Parasitic Mite Syndrome'. A trial has been carried out on two apiaries, one with 50 colonies and the other with 30 colonies using tobacco leaves burned in the smokers.


In Spring 1995 colonies showed some delay in their build up. A lot of crawling bees had been seen in front of the hives and on the ground. Hives in two apiaries were treated with tobacco leaves. 15-20 g of leaves were burned in the smoker with the material used for making smoke. It was used during routine examinations every week or as needed, in March, April and May. These colonies were shown to have greater populations and to yield more honey compared with two control hives kept near the apiary of 50 colonies. In the apiary with 30 colonies there were another 45 colonies which were not treated with tobacco smoke.


In early August there was a check up and comparison between the colonies that had been treated with tobacco smoke and those which had not. There was a great difference in honeybee populations; those which had been treated being more populous. The bees were more active in foraging and collecting nectar.


Whatever the disease, I believe that tobacco smoke had beneficial effect on the colonies. We know that nicotine in tobacco smoke has some anaesthetic effect on insects in general, and it might have some lethal effect on mites and therefore some beneficial effect against the condition.

We believe now that the immune system of the bees is in some way diminished. By using tobacco smoke we are either hitting the primary target, or we might be curing a secondary pathogen. In either case we are helping our bees to get better!"


Anonymous said...

We could note also the word 'swimming'. Is this a conscious intention to evoke pictures of little fishes? The probability is that the 'species' were bacteria of some sort - chosen in advance for their reaction the the slightest bit of 'toxiciity'.

proglodyte said...

In one litre of water FFS? About 1 and 3/4 pints...50% of marine species?? Fish??? The poor fuckers probably died of claustrophobia..

Are we to assume that anything bigger than a puddle is as polluted? These people have totally lost the plot. They should be sectioned.

Anyway, no mention of residual nicotine and other chemicals in used NRT patches. Presumably these are returned to the dispensary to be incinerated rather than chucked out and dumped with all the other rubbish....

George Speller said...

I recall the item from last year, Dick. I had a sinking feeling when I read it. Not just because I'm a smoker, but also because I was briught up to respect scientific method. The rug just disappeared from under my feet.

Sue said...

Ermmm. If I leave a packet of cigarettes around, my dog will eat the whole packet. He's more than fine! It's dark chocolate that would kill him but they haven't banned that!

Thomas Hobbes said...

I saw this and thought of you..

smokervoter said...

I would post the sum total of litres of water in all the seas, rivers and lakes on planet earth, but the number would probably crash your server.

Anonymous said...

People really must be losing interest in the the whole anti-smoking movement, and the anti-smoking movement must know it. Their increasingly hysterical "LISTEN TO US! THIS IS IMPORTANT!" type stories don't even seem to be trying to mask their desperation to re-claim the headlines these days.

Desperation indeed! Long may it continue. Goodbye ASH, Campaign for Smoke-free Kids, Smokefree North-east (or west, or wherever) ......

Mac the Knife said...

Amazing how much people will pay to use prostitutes eh?

Anonymous said...

Nicely put Mac.

Do they have a super injunction?

Ann W. said...

Basic Principles of Acetate Fiber Production — Acetate is derived from cellulose by reacting purified cellulose from wood pulp with acetic acid and acetic anhydride in the presence of sulfuric acid. It is then put through a controlled, partial hydrolysis to remove the sulfate and a sufficient number of acetate groups to give the product the desired properties. The anhydroglucose unit, is the fundamental repeating structure of cellulose, has three hydroxyl groups which can react to form acetate esters. The most common form of cellulose acetate fiber has an acetate group on approximately two of every three hydroxyls. This cellulose diacetate is known as secondary acetate, or simply as “acetate”.

After it is formed, cellulose acetate is dissolved in acetone for extrusion. As the filaments emerge from the spinneret, the solvent is evaporated in warm air (dry spinning), producing fine filaments of cellulose acetate.

Some Major Acetate Fiber Uses:

* Apparel: Blouses, dresses, linings, wedding and party attire, home furnishings, draperies, upholstery
* Industrial Uses: Cigarette filters

Anonymous said...

And your point Ann W?........?

Ann W. said...

my point is that cellulose acetate is a common fiber used in many products, not just cigarette filters.

It just appear strange that, again, the anti's are only pointing the figure at the butts, but if as they state the butts do not decompose,then either does all the other products.

The main producer of the fiber actually claims that it is "Environmentally sound"

Acetate is made from a renewable resource - reforested trees. It can be composted or incinerated, making it ideal for durable goods and disposables.

And I am just now reading the study "Degradation of Cellulose Acetate-Based Materials: A Review" which is also stating that the fiber is "biodegraded"

"One novel study was the findings by forensic science researchers Northrop and Rowe in 1987, who studied the effect of the soil environment on the biodeterioration of man-made textiles [13]. They found that cellulose acetate fibers were significantly deteriorated after 2 months in moist soil and were completely destroyed after 4–9 months. In this study, the other synthetic textile fibers (nylon, polyester and acrylics) showed no significant changes at the end of the 12 month study."

Ann W. said...

sorry for the intrusion, I'll butt out now.

Anonymous said...

I live in San diego and actually graduated from that crappy college with a degree in Comp Lit. I can assure you that the majority of the students there are too busy persuing the effects of Marijuana smoke to actually spare the time it would take to verify any real science. I have a nice little pond in my yard full of various species of fish, and I am sure once or twice I dropped in a butt by accident. Everyone seems to be still swimming...

proglodyte said...

Smoker voter. Please give it a shot, the figure can be 'to the power of' instead of zillions of zeros. The number of fag butts required would be the same (of course not including the majority that never visit the seaside). Might put all this crap into some kind of perspective. These idiots deserve to be ridiculed.

proglodyte said...

Don't let your 'companions' see this...

Anonymous said...

Ann W.

I am sorry if I was abrupt. I simply did not understand what you were getting at.

So cigarette butts deteriorate. It is good to see the science involved and thank you for that. If they did not, then the borders of my garden would be inches deep in them after 20 years of flicking butts into the shrubbery!

Stay with us!