A fireboat was spotted last month near the aquarium on the beautiful Puget Sound waters. What emergency summoned it? A smoldering cigarette butt found under the pier. Contrary to popular belief, throwing lit cigarettes into the water does not guarantee it will be put out. A lot of wood floats on the water and congregates in the same places a cigarette will once it is thrown into the same current, and on sunny days, the wood that is not submerged in water is dry. Needless to say, if you light up, be sure to put it out!
Regardless of fire hazard both on and off land, there are other reasons people should be making more of an effort to dispose of cigarettes appropriately. The 2011 Ocean Conservancy International Coastal Cleanup determined that cigarette butts are the number one most littered item, representing 32% of all debris counted. Cigarettes contain about 4000 compounds, and at least 200 of them declared a health hazard. The main toxins in cigarettes are tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide. In significant quantities, these toxins are lethal to aquatic organisms. With an estimated 65% littering rate, the likelihood that a cigarette butt will end up in the ocean is high even if it is not originally littered into a waterway. If you make the personal decision to smoke, please also make the responsible decision to help to keep our oceans healthy by putting it out, and throwing it out.
You can help us with our goal of keeping Puget Sound clean on World Ocean Day, June 8th. By spending “An Hour for the Ocean” cleaning beaches around Seattle, you can help to remove some of the marine debris (such as cigarette butts) from the beach. Stay tuned for details on when and where the clean-ups will take place!
Pledge your hour to help the earth today on our Facebook page!
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