What the cigarette butts you throw on the beach do in the marine environment

What the cigarette butts you throw on the beach do in the marine environment

Some beaches are banning smoking, and it is not only an appropriate measure not to subject people around us to smoke or fill the sand with cigarette butts. Butts can also contaminate the sea in a particularly aggressive way: being an important source of metallic pollutants from leaching into the marine environment and, potentially, entering the food chain.

The metals evaluated in an investigation by the Persian Gulf Marine Biotechnology Research Center of the Bushehr University of Medical Sciences (Iran), and published in the journal Tobacco Control , included cadmium (Cd), iron (Fe), arsenic (As ) nickel (Ni), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn) and manganese (Mn) from discarded cigarette butts.

According to the study, cigarette filters, which are made of cellulose acetate, can act like other plastics by providing a conduit to transport metals in marine environments , as the researchers write (who nonetheless admit that more study is needed to understand the leaching behavior of metals from cigarette butts in the marine environment):

While high concentrations of heavy and trace metals in water and soils can adversely affect some species, pollution can increase tolerance to metals in other organisms. Taking into account the estimated number of cigarette butts scattered per year (4.95 billion), the release of metals from cigarette butts scattered in the marine environment can increase the potential for acute damage relative to local species and enter in the food chain.

Via | EuropaPress

Image | Sean MacEntee