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Cigarettes: Bad for You, Good for Steel Pipes?

David Mittleman

Apparently cigarettes aren’t all bad—well, at least that’s what Chinese scientists have discovered. However, they aren’t talking about cigarettes not being bad for your health, rather, the chemical extracts from cigarette butts can be used to protect steel pipes from rusting. So don’t use this blog as an excuse to go light up.

In a paper published in the American Chemical Society’s bi-weekly journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, Chinese scientists reported that they had discovered nine chemicals in cigarettes after immersing the butts in water. After then applying the chemicals N80, a type of steel used in the construction of oil pipes, the metal did not rust. Specifically, the nicotine in cigarettes, as well as other chemicals, protected the pipes from corrosion.

According to the researchers, the discovery is particularly important considering the cost to replace oil pipes, which totals millions of dollars each year. Moreover, the paper also stated that 4.5 trillion cigarettes butts find their way into the environment each year. Besides being an eyesore, the toxins in cigarette butts can also kill fish. With new uses for cigarette butts, this type of pollution could be prevented.


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