December 7, 2009
Researchers at San Diego State University have found that cigarette butts are toxic to fish, and are recommending that cigarette butts be labeled as toxic hazardous waste, CBC News reported Nov. 20.
A single cigarette butt containing unburnt tobacco can contaminate a liter of water and can kill half of the fish in the surrounding area, according to the study.
Researchers used fresh and saltwater fish to test the toxicity of tobacco. They soaked cigarette butts in water for a day and then placed the fish inside the water. Cigarettes and cigarette butts with unburnt tobacco were the most toxic. Cigarette filters with no tobacco left on them were also toxic, according to the study.
“Based on this new research, we believe that cigarettes should be considered toxic waste and new requirements need to be established for how they are disposed,” said Tom Novotny, a professor of public health at San Diego State University.
The study’s findings were presented at a recent meeting of the American Public Health Association.