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Open Access No Butts on the Beach: Aquatic Toxicity of Cigarette Butt Leachate Chemicals

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This article is Open Access under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND licence.

Objectives: Toxic pollutants leaching from littered cigarette butts (CB) raise environmental impact concerns. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is required to assess the environmental impacts of its tobacco regulatory actions per the US National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Methods: We determined the chemical constituents in CB leachate through analyses of 109 field-collected CB and literature compilation and characterized their ecotoxicity to aquatic organisms. Results: One-third of the 98 identified CB leachate chemicals were very toxic and 10% were toxic to aquatic organisms due to acute and chronic toxicity. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, metals, phthalates, nicotine and volatile organic compounds were the most hazardous CB leachate chemicals for aquatic organisms. Of the 98 CB leachate chemicals, 25 are included in FDA's list of harmful or potentially harmful constituents in tobacco products and tobacco smoke. Conclusions: Our study quantifies CB leachate constituents, characterizes their ecological hazard and identifies chemicals of concern. Thus, it aids in evaluating the environmental impacts of tobacco products per NEPA requirements. These results provide important information for strategies to prevent and reduce CB litter (eg, awareness programs, litter laws enforcement), thereby reducing environmental hazards from CB toxicants.

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Keywords: CIGARETTE BUTTS; ECOLOGICAL RISK ASSESSMENT; ECOTOXICOLOGY; ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS; NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY ACT; TOBACCO REGULATION

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Interdisciplinary Scientist, Office of Science, Center for Tobacco Products, US Food and Drug Administration, Beltsville, MD, United States 2: Lead Biologist, Office of Science, Center for Tobacco Products, US Food and Drug Administration, Beltsville, MD, United States 3: Lead Toxicologist, Office of Science, Center for Tobacco Products, US Food and Drug Administration, Beltsville, MD, United States 4: Supervisory Toxicologist, Office of Science, Center for Tobacco Products, US Food and Drug Ad- ministration, Beltsville, MD, United States

Publication date: January 2021

More about this publication?
  • Tobacco Regulatory Science (Electronic ISSN 2333-9748) is a rigorously peer-reviewed online scientific journal for the dissemination of research relevant to the regulation of tobacco products. The journal content includes a broad array of research domains, including chemistry, biology, behavior, community, and population-level surveillance and epidemiology, as well as knowledge syntheses (eg, meta-analyses or state-of-the-art reviews) and analytic modeling. All articles describe the policy relevance of the research outcomes. Given the global nature of tobacco regulation, particularly as a result of international and national policies, Tobacco Regulatory Science publishes high quality research that is relevant to global regulatory needs and requirements. Tobacco Regulatory Science is published electronically 6 times per year.
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