Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Results Of Tobacco Smoke On Plant Growth

Cigarette smoke can have a significant effect on plant growth.

Human health risks related to cigarette smoking have been a topic of discussion for many years. Research from many sources has shown that it promotes various diseases, increases birth defect risk and much more. But cigarette smoke actually affects plant life as well. While you don't tend to hear much about it, smoking cigarettes near plants can have a considerable effect on how they grow.


One way that cigarette smoke can affect plant growth is through the process known as epinasty. Epinasty is the process of plant leaves drooping down because the leaf is releasing the chemical ethylene. This typically happens when flooding occurs. Although it is not completely understood why, the plants begin releasing this ethylene when the root system becomes inundated.

Cigarette smoke is packed full of various types of chemicals, including ethylene. When the smoke reaches the plants, the plant responds in the same way through epinasty, by sagging and drooping its leaves down just as it would if the ethylene was self-made.

Light Absorption

Plants require light to live. The process of photosynthesis would not be possible without the existence of light to spark the reaction in the plants. Smoke from cigarettes is full of particles that form a residue on any surface it comes in contact with. For example, a car where a smoker frequently lights up will have a film of smoke particles on the inside of the windshield that will be obvious when cleaned with a light-colored cloth. The same film sticks to plant leaves as well. This film prevents the plant from absorbing as much light as it could otherwise and will therefore prevent it from growing to its full potential.

Blocked Nutrients

Experiments with cigarette smoke and plants tend to reveal that plants exposed to more smoke are usually less healthy and grow less. Part of the reason for this is the smoke's ability to choke off nutrition to the plant. The chemicals in the smoke alter the plant to the extent that it is unable to absorb the nutrients it needs from its food source. The plant is not necessarily going to die, but it will not be as healthy as it otherwise would be.

One example of this theory was from the California State Science Fair, when an experiment involving radishes successfully tested levels of cigarette smoke against the quality of growth of the plants. The more smoke the plants were exposed to, the less quality of growth they had.

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