Cigarette Butts Harmful To Fish, Study Says
Cigarette butts that end up as litter in rivers, lakes, ponds, and other waterways are harmful to fish, according to a new study from researchers at San Diego State University.
The team of researchers looked at the affect cigarette butts had on both freshwater fish and saltwater fish. In order to determine what the most harmful aspect of a cigarette was, they divided the cigarettes into three categories: smoked cigarettes with a filter and tobacco residue, smoked filters with no tobacco, and unsmoked cigarette filters without tobacco. They soaked the cigarette butts in water, with both the freshwater fish and saltwater fish, for 24 hours.
They found that the contaminated water from all three of the cigarette butts were harmful, with the most dangerous being the smoked cigarettes with a filter and traces of tobacco residue, which killed 50 percent of the fish who were placed in the water with them.
“Leachates (contaminated water) from smoked cigarette butts with remnant tobacco were significantly more toxic to fish than the smoked filters alone but even unsmoked filters exhibited a small level of toxicity,” Richard Gersberg, a researcher who worked on the study and a professor of environmental health at the university, told the Metro U.K. “This study represents the first to show leachate from cigarette butts is acutely toxic to representative marine and freshwater fish species.”
The researchers published their findings in the Tobacco Control journal.