Featured Image Credit: Pepe’s Non-Smoking Party Time Lounge
By Sarah Sharkey
The breeze is blowing, the waves are crashing softly in the background, the sand is between your toes and …Oh, what’s that?
A nice cigarette butt, left on the beach or landed there from the wind, is now wedged between your sandy toes.
The amount of human trash spread out along the shore is a little horrifying. But, between plastic bottles, fishing debris, and styrofoam, people often overlook the inconspicuous cigarettes butts lying half-buried in sand.
Well, each inconspicuous, seemingly tiny cigarette butt adds up to a significant amount of trash in our ocean. The sheer number of cigarette equals up to 4.95 trillion cigarette butts littered on our beaches each year! (Yes a trillion).
Image Credit: Nina Wu
That is a ridiculous amount of trash that is making its way into our ocean and the marine ecosystems that function there.
These trillions of cigarette butts are bringing metals such as cadmium (Cd), iron (Fe), arsenic (As) nickel (Ni), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn) and manganese (Mn) into the ocean. Previous research has shown that these cigarette butts allow these metals to leach into the ocean environment, and possibly into our food sources.
To understand the possible implications of these leached metals, a study took samples in nine different locations along the north part of the Persian Gulf.
The levels of the metal, the byproduct of cigarette butts, was assessed from the samples and measured twice, with a period of 10 days in between.
The research, published online in the journal Tobacco Control, found that the levels from the two periods of time did not show significant change.
But, this very well not be a sufficient period of time to detect any long-term changes. Further studies will need to be done to discover the effects of the leached metals.
For now, it’s probably safe to assume, that these metals don’t have a positive impact. So we should all do our best to keep these butts out of the water.
One great way to do this is through beach cleanups and waterway cleanups in your area.
Remember to pick up the butts! Even if they look too small to make a difference, each one adds to the trillions of them littering our beaches and waters.
Read more about it, here.