Among the long, long list of reasons why we shouldn't smoke lies cigarette ash: it's a fairly unsavory chemical cocktail that also happens to be a major eyesore around any popular smoking spot. But thanks to a team of chemists, we could use that same cocktail of horrific chemical to make water clean. Go science!

Specifically, a group of scientists led by Jiaxing Li of the Chinese Academy of Sciences found that coating cigarette ash in aluminium oxide makes for a highly effective filter for removing arsenic from water. Specifically, in tests they found that it stripped 96 per cent of arsenic from contaminated groundwater, meaning it meets the standards imposed by the World Health Organization for arsenic filters.

This is all thanks to the porous nature of cigarette ash, which makes it ideal for filtering water. Add a coating of aluminium oxide (a single-step process that doesn't add a lot of cost), and you've got a simple, easily replicated solution for arsenic-contaminated groundwater, a problem that effects an estimated 137 million people. In other words: smokers, puff away! Just no flicking your ash off the office roof any more. [ACS via Gizmag]

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