Outdoor mesocosms with constantly flowing natural seawater were used to test the effects of littered cigarette butts on the filter feeder Mytilus edulis (blue mussel), the macroalga, Ulva lactuca (sea lettuce) and sediment microphytobenthos in a semi-natural marine setting. Either conventional, cellulose acetate, or biodegradable, cellulose, smoked cigarette butts were added at densities of 0.25 or 1 butt L−1. The clearance rates of mussels exposed to 1 butt L−1 of cellulose acetate butts were three times less than the controls. The growth of U. lactuca was not measurably affected by cigarette butts, however the sediment chlorophyll content was significantly less in mesocosms exposed to 0.25 and 1 butt L−1 of cellulose acetate butts. These effects occurred despite constant replacement of seawater indicating how hazardous conventional cigarette butts are to marine life. Biodegradable cellulose cigarette butts had minimal effects on the measured variables but should still not be discarded as litter.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We would like to thank Anglia Ruskin University for granting DSG a funded sabbatical allowing her to undertake this research.
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- Cellulose acetate
- Green butts
- Single use plastics
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Aquatic Science