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Local youth invite community to cigarette butt cleanup April 20

SIMCOE, APRIL 15, 2013- The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit’s volunteer youth group, HEAT, will be cleaning up cigarette butt litter in two Simcoe parks on Saturday, April 20, and the teens are inviting the community to come out and lend a hand.

The cleanup will begin at 10 a.m. in the Simcoe Kinsmen Park and then move on to Wellington Park to clean up discarded butts there from 11 a.m. until noon.

Members of HEAT, which stands for Health Education and Advocacy Team, hope that this event will raise awareness about the negative impacts of cigarette butt litter on the environment.

“A lot of people think that since cigarette filters are so small and have a paper wrapping, they are biodegradable and harmless to the environment,” said Sydney Iliffe, a youth volunteer with HEAT. “The reality though is that cigarette filters contain cellulose acetate, a type of plastic which can take several years to break down.”

Cigarette butts also contain toxic chemicals such as lead and arsenic, which pose a serious health risk to children and small animals if they ingest littered butts. These toxins also impact the environment as they leach into the surrounding soil and water during the decomposition of the butts.

The members of HEAT hope that this cleanup will not only help to beautify local parks, but will also generate discussions in the community about the issue of smoking in public outdoor spaces.

“Parks and playgrounds are supposed to be places where kids and families can safely play,” added HEAT volunteer Anouk Bussink. “Parents shouldn’t have to worry about their toddlers putting cigarette butts in their mouths or breathing in second-hand smoke while they play.”

While the main focus of the cleanup will be cigarette butts, HEAT volunteers will also be picking up other garbage they encounter. The group will also give out a small thank you gift to anyone that helps with the clean-up.

Anyone interested in getting involved with the cleanup can call the Health Unit at 519-426-6170 Ext. 3276 or send an email tomarcia.vandenbussche@hnhu.org.

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Media contact:
Marcia VandenBussche
Youth Engagement Coordinator
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
Ext. 3276 at either 519.426.6170 or 905.318.6623
marcia.vandenbussche@hnhu.org