Is Discarded Chewing Gum a Problem in Many Cities?

Officials in Mexico City say that there are 40,000 kinds of bacteria living in the globs of gum discarded on sidewalks, statues, and plazas in the Mexican capital, including E. coli, Proteus, and Salmonella. Removing the gum stuck to the pavement along Francisco I. Madero Avenue, the most famous pedestrian street in the capital, is a constant struggle. Workers armed with heavy-duty dry vapor steam guns are deployed overnight. During a recent three-day assault, a 15-person team removed 11,000 pieces of sticky litter from the avenue.

Chew on these gum facts:

  • The ancient Greeks used a resin from the mastic tree to exercise their jaws. The Mayans and Aztecs drew sap from sapodilla trees, drying it into a latex called tzicli (which has become the modern-day “chicle”).

  • Mexican general Antonio López de Santa Anna brought chicle north of the border in the 19th century. While imprisoned in the United States, Santa Anna chewed chicle to calm his nerves.

  • Chewing gum was included in US military rations during World War II. After the war, chicle was replaced with polyvinyl acetate, a super-sticky synthetic that takes up to five years to decompose.

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More Info: The Guardian

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