We have seen and skilled before the cigarette smoke causing cancer and other diseases. But have you ever thought about cigarette butts?
Typically, rain sweeps them down rain drains, into local waterways and, ultimately, into the Chesapeake Bay or the Atlantic. There, these robust little cigarette filters—made of tightly packed plastic fibers—begin to disintegrate into smaller and smaller plastic fragments, joining a cascade of microplastic pollution that is bedeviling the world’s oceans and the living things they support.
Microplastics may be small. However, their impact is far from it.
Plastic bags, water bottles, and balloons pose one risk after they’re ingested by sea turtles, fish, and waterbirds that mistake them for meals.
However, microplastics—or, extra precisely, micro shards—get devoured up by the tiniest creatures that type the base of the marine food net. Some bits are so tiny that they can go by cell membranes.
These micro shards climb the meals chain, complicating the injury and the dangers along the way.
For over 20 years, cigarette butts have been the No. 1 wreckage item reported in Virginia throughout coastal cleanups, according to Katie Register, govt director of Clean Virginia Waterways of Longwood University.
Register wrote the 2016 Virginia Marine Debris Reduction Plan for the Coastal Zone Management Program on the Department of Environmental Quality.
That finding bears out each time VIMS faculty and student volunteers conduct a beach cleanup. In lower than a mile of shoreline over lower than an hour, volunteers can decide up more than three,000 cigarette butts—far outpacing the variety of plastic meals wrappers from a current cleanup (981), fast food containers (15), foam packaging (60) and bottles (6).
Even cutting down on objects like plastic straws or cutlery can have a massive impact over time, she stated. Smokers can purchase pocket ashtrays or insulated bags to dispose of their cigarette butts.