About five billion butts end up in the marine environment a year, spilling metal contaminants that can enter the food chain.

In Spain, about 89 million cigarettes are smoked per day, which represents 32,455 million filters discarded annually, according to a report by the National Committee for the Prevention of Smoking (CNPT). And we wonder … How many of these end up on the ground? The truth is that there are no figures that verify it but we do know that the butts that remain on the ground can be dragged by the rain towards the river courses, reaching the coasts. In addition we do not have to forget the amount of cigarette ends that end up in the sea for the simple fact that they have been thrown on the beach.

Cigarette butts are the most common form of litter found in the marine environment, with an estimated 5 billion thrown into the environment worldwide each year. I can give off arsenic or nickel in the water.

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

To conduct the study, the authors monitored the levels of metals in cigarette butts in nine different locations along the northern part of the Persian Gulf in the coastal areas of the Bushehr seaport during the summer of 2015.

According to the researchers, the metallic content of the cigarettes can vary according to the cultivation process or they can also be added during the manufacture of the cigarette or by applying gloss agents on the wrapping paper.

Cigarette filters, which are made of cellulose acetate, can act like other plastics by providing a conduit for transporting metals in marine environments, the authors suggest. They also point out that the response of animal and plant life to the metal content is very variable.

In nature, these minerals are essential for life. However, an artificial increase in their usual quantities could be harmful to oceanic species. In some cases, the researchers believe that the result would be an increase in their “metal tolerance” levels, but they also warn that, in many other organisms, the high concentration of heavy metals in water can be terribly harmful.

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 with respect to local species and enter in the food chain.


Colillas en la Playa


Prohibit smoking on the beach

Four years ago the town of Sant Feliu de Guixols (Girona) banned smoking in some areas of its beaches. That pilot test set and since then the area of ​​coast without smoke has increased.

This year this initiative has been implemented at regional level in Galicia. The Galician network of smokeless beaches already has 22 beaches of 17 municipalities of Pontevedra, Lugo and La Coruña, the three coastal provinces. They are famous beaches that appear in tourist brochures such as Area Grande in La Guardia, Perbes in Miño or La Rabadorira in Ribadeo and others less known, but which have a large influx such as Lapamán, in Bueu.

The initiative does not have a sanctioning nature, so there will be no special vigilance or smokers will be sanctioned. The initiative has an informative nature to promote healthy lifestyle habits, and respect for the environment.

We hope that after reading this news you have become more aware of what a simple gesture can cause in the environment and that you simply leave the space that you have visited on the beach as it was before you reached it.

Source: La Vanguardia