Hey Smokers, You’re Killing The Fish

Photo: Sillyputtyenemies

Photo: Sillyputtyenemies (CC)

It turns out that fish are also helpless victims of smokers. No joke, as reported by Jeffrey Kluger for TIME:

For smokers, the world has always been one big ashtray, with cigarettes flicked away pretty much anywhere. That’s especially true now, since smokers are increasingly forbidden to light up in restaurants, office buildings and even new no-smoking condos. In the great river of litter human beings create each year, so tiny a thing as a cigarette butt hardly seems to amount to much. But with the world’s smokers burning through a breathtaking 5.6 trillion cigarettes per year — 4.5 trillion of which are simply tossed away outside after they’re smoked — little things add up fast. That, as it turns out, can be especially dangerous for one type of nonhuman critter: fish.

About a third of all of the trash found on U.S. shorelines consists of cigarette butts. There’s no such thing as good litter, but butts may be among the worst, since they’re impregnated with concentrated quantities of the 4,000 chemicals — many of them highly toxic — that occur naturally in tobacco and are added in the cigarette-manufacturing process. In a new paper published in the journal Tobacco Control, a team of researchers headed by Eli Slaughter of San Diego State University’s Graduate School of Public Health sought to determine the kind of harm those poisons can do.

Slaughter and his team broke cigarette waste down into three categories: smoked filters with some scraps of tobacco left; smoked filters with all of the tobacco burned or washed away; and unsmoked filters, which themselves contain a whole stew of chemicals. They immersed samples of each type of butt in separate 2-liter (.5 gal) containers of water and allowed them to soak. In some of the vessels, 16 butts were added to the water, in some 8, in some 4, 2, 1 or just a half a butt. After 24 hours, the butts were removed and fish were added.

The two types of fish the researchers chose for their study were the topsmelt and fathead minnow, both common in U.S. waterways. All of the fish were 14 days old or younger. What Slaughter and his team were looking for was what’s known as the LC50 — the lethal concentration of cigarette butt leachate in water that would kill 50% of the sample…

[continues at TIME]

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  • $4251815

    Every time I see a smoker flick their butt onto the ground or out their car window, I just want to grab the still smoldering smoke and put it out on their eyeball. Nothing pisses me off more than finding cigarette butts on the hiking trail or in a wilderness are.

    • Mr. Coffee

      Yes, because maiming people is exactly what this world needs more of.

    • ArgosyJones

      Good thing the world has vicious fascist/sadists like you to fantasize about torture for us.

    • CarbonbasedGODS

      Yea if you tried that to me i would break your jaw in self defense. You wont be thinking poor environment after that. Side note, What is the only way to reduce ur carbon footprint 2 zero? Damn gullible phony environmentalists!

  • ZombieSlapper

    Every time I see a smoker flick their butt onto the ground or out their car window, I just want to grab the still smoldering smoke and put it out on their eyeball. Nothing pisses me off more than finding cigarette butts on the hiking trail or in a wilderness are.

  • Mr. Coffee

    Yes, because maiming people is exactly what this world needs more of.

  • jchadbou

    its horrible that fish were killed to test something so obvious. cigarette buds contain toxic chemicals, commonsense would tell you NOT to go testing this on live animals.

  • jchadbou

    its horrible that fish were killed to test something so obvious. cigarette buds contain toxic chemicals, commonsense would tell you NOT to go testing this on live animals.

  • ArgosyJones

    Good thing the world has vicious fascist/sadists like you to fantasize about torture for us.

  • http://monkeearmada.wordpress.com/ Hanumansboi

    There’s plenty of fish fuck’em! Stupid humans think that they can stop the world from turning. Long after the last human is dead and gone the earth will still be spinning and life will keep on going! So on that note I’ll flick my butts where ever I please and if you try telling me what to do again I’ll cause some environmental damage on your face!

    • Andrew

      Don’t flick your butts anywhere but trash cans, slob.

      There, I just told you what to do again.

      • Mr. Coffee

        try to remember to put out the cheery first hero.

        • Mr. Coffee

          err.. cherry

    • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

      Merh… i don’t really care about people smoking all that much.. but the attitude that humans cant affect the environment is naive and frustrating… The idea here that there is only “one of me, in a big giant world, so any impact i have is insignificant.” But when a million or 2 billion… or 6.9 billion people have this attitude, it adds up.

      I just wish certain kinds of people would pick up a little human decency.

    • Cailc_

      cough,cough,cough!!!never mind,dumbass.

  • http://monkeearmada.wordpress.com/ Hanumansboi

    There’s plenty of fish fuck’em! Stupid humans think that they can stop the world from turning. Long after the last human is dead and gone the earth will still be spinning and life will keep on going! So on that note I’ll flick my butts where ever I please and if you try telling me what to do again I’ll cause some environmental damage on your face!

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    5.6 trillion cigarettes per year …

    Sorry…I was very tense last year.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    5.6 trillion cigarettes per year …

    Sorry…I was very tense last year.

  • http://twitter.com/pocketofsoil Brent DeBoard

    Does it make it better if you’re landlocked when you throw your butts in the street? Just saying.

  • http://twitter.com/pocketofsoil Brent DeBoard

    Does it make it better if you’re landlocked when you throw your butts in the street? Just saying.

  • http://twitter.com/pocketofsoil Brent DeBoard

    Does it make it better if you’re landlocked when you throw your butts in the street? Just saying.

  • http://twitter.com/pocketofsoil Brent

    Does it make it better if you’re landlocked when you throw your butts in the street? Just saying.

  • Andrew

    Don’t flick your butts anywhere but trash cans, slob.

    There, I just told you what to do again.

  • Mr. Coffee

    try to remember to put out the cheery first hero.

  • Mr. Coffee

    err.. cherry

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    Merh… i don’t really care about people smoking all that much.. but the attitude that humans cant affect the environment is naive and frustrating… The idea here that there is only “one of me, in a big giant world, so any impact i have is insignificant.” But when a million or 2 billion… or 6.9 billion people have this attitude, it adds up.

    I just wish certain kinds of people would pick up a little human decency.

  • CarbonbasedGODS

    Yea if you tried that to me i would break your jaw in self defense. You wont be thinking poor environment after that. Side note, What is the only way to reduce ur carbon footprint 2 zero? Damn gullible phony environmentalists!

  • mrtastycakes

    “Even the most pristine cigarette filter is still made of 15,000 cellulose acetate fibers surrounded by paper or rayon and treated with glues, salts and other chemicals to hold it all together and help the cigarette burn evenly. Could any of that be good for you?”

    No. But not all cigarettes use the zylonite filters this references. Both Winston and American Spirit (there’s probably more) use cotton filters. They’re harmless themselves and degrade in days to weeks, rather than years to decades with zylonite.

    “The simplest fix, of course, would be for smokers to stop tossing their butts wherever they jolly well please.”

    But people still litter even though it’s illegal. They’re even more likely to do it when that litter is on fire. A superior solution would be to mandate the use of cotton filters. What’s one useful, easy regulation to an industry already burdened with thousands of useless ones?

    Nicotine–a poison that becomes even more potent when soaked in water–would remain an issue.

  • mrtastycakes

    “Even the most pristine cigarette filter is still made of 15,000 cellulose acetate fibers surrounded by paper or rayon and treated with glues, salts and other chemicals to hold it all together and help the cigarette burn evenly. Could any of that be good for you?”

    No. But not all cigarettes use the zylonite filters this references. Both Winston and American Spirit (there’s probably more) use cotton filters. They’re harmless themselves and degrade in days to weeks, rather than years to decades with zylonite.

    “The simplest fix, of course, would be for smokers to stop tossing their butts wherever they jolly well please.”

    But people still litter even though it’s illegal. They’re even more likely to do it when that litter is on fire. A superior solution would be to mandate the use of cotton filters. What’s one useful, easy regulation to an industry already burdened with thousands of useless ones?

    Nicotine–a poison that becomes even more potent when soaked in water–would remain an issue.

  • Sclata

    It doesn’t take much to get smokers into a fit, does it?

  • Sclata

    It doesn’t take much to get smokers into a fit, does it?

  • Cailc_

    cough,cough,cough!!!never mind,dumbass.

  • EAGD

    Smokers don’t cause pollution, POLLUTERS cause it – and polluters have all kinds of habits.

  • EAGD

    Smokers don’t cause pollution, POLLUTERS cause it – and polluters have all kinds of habits.

  • Tergiversator_Maximus

    As a smoker, I hate throwing butts and I will go out of my way to throw an extinguished butt in a trash can or hang on to it until I can find a trash can if possible, but like how being confined to a wheelchair opens someone’s eyes to how handicap inaccessible the world is, it amazes me how few places there are to throw away trash properly in public. Sometimes it’s really not reasonable to dispose of butts properly and you don’t have much of a choice but to throw them in the gutter and hope the street cleaner picks them up. It’s ironic how as our culture seeks to ban smoking and ostracize smokers, it creates new problems. Though pushing 72 hours sans cigarette, I might be dropping the smoker moniker.

  • Tergiversator_Maximus

    As a smoker, I hate throwing butts and I will go out of my way to throw an extinguished butt in a trash can or hang on to it until I can find a trash can if possible, but like how being confined to a wheelchair opens someone’s eyes to how handicap inaccessible the world is, it amazes me how few places there are to throw away trash properly in public. Sometimes it’s really not reasonable to dispose of butts properly and you don’t have much of a choice but to throw them in the gutter and hope the street cleaner picks them up. It’s ironic how as our culture seeks to ban smoking and ostracize smokers, it creates new problems. Though pushing 72 hours sans cigarette, I might be dropping the smoker moniker.

  • superfluous

    exxon valdez 

  • superfluous

    exxon valdez 

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