The pollution of the oceans by cigarette butts, a vital issue

Contrary to popular belief, the cigarette butt is the biggest polluter of the oceans. This one is nevertheless as dangerous as the others, if not more so. Once consumed, the cigarette butt is the most discarded waste in nature. It should be known that not less than 137 000 cigarette butts are thrown every second in the ocean. This is equivalent to 3,340 packs of cigarettes. Nearly 40% of them end up in the Mediterranean Sea, mainly because of the sea currents!

Serious environmental consequences

In spite of a growing awareness for the fight against the waste which is thrown in the environment, the cigarette butt remains always present a little everywhere around us. A cigarette butt degrades with difficulty, from 12 to 15 years. It contains no less than 4,000 toxic substances. Among these, there are between 100 and 250 that are carcinogenic and highly harmful to the environment and the marine ecosystem. We can mention: pesticides, nicotine, phenol, tar, heavy metals, arsenic, etc. As a reminder, a cigarette butt can pollute up to 50 liters of water when it is immersed in the sea.

Marine biodiversity is increasingly threatened

Apart from the observation of the degradation of discarded cigarette butts in sea water, many scientific tests have been carried out on marine animals such as crustaceans for example. The transfer of contaminants to the environment and the associated impacts on the organisms living there have been studied. The results are clear: 1 cigarette butt can contaminate 1 kg of sediments, resulting in the mortality of all the individuals that have been exposed.

A robust and dangerous pollutant

In terms of the anatomy of the cigarette butt, one of the most dangerous factors to focus on is the filter. Indeed, the filter contains plastic which, when immersed in water, will not or hardly degrade. With time, this plastic material that composes the filter will progressively fragment into numerous microplastics that will be ingested by the fish who will think that it is food. These microplastics, not being able to be digested, will then accumulate in the stomach of the fish and will then give a feeling of satiety. Thus, butts decimate an incalculable number of fish, which has an extremely destructive impact on the already fragile balance of the ecosystem and marine biodiversity. It is a real health issue for humans.

Simple actions for promising results

If you don’t throw the cigarette butts in the nature, it is strongly recommended to participate in the collection and to throw the cigarette butts in the garbage cans intended for the household waste circuits or in the various ashtrays dedicated to the collection and the recycling of the cigarette butts. This plague can only be stopped by our common will to act. More than a citizen action, we are all actors of the survival of our planet. And will thus be brought to destroy half of the living beings that it will have contaminated, and this, in only four days.