Nano-litter from cigarette butts: Environmental implications and urgent consideration

Abstract : Cigarette butts (CGB) are equivalent to plastic litter in terms of number of pieces released directly into the environment. Due to their small size and social use, CGB are commonly found in natural systems, and several questions have been raised concerning the contaminants that are released with CGB, including metals, organic species, and nanoparticles. The aim of the present study is to investigate the release of nanoscale particles from CGB by leaching with rainwater. After seven days of passive stirring of both smoked and unsmoked CGB in synthetic rainwater, the solutions were treated and analyzed by specific nano-analytical methods. Our results demonstrate the release of 4.12 ± 0.24% (w/CGB) organic carbon in the range of 10 nm up to 400 nm and with a z-average diameter of 202.4 ± 74.1 nm. The fractal dimension (Df) of the nanoscale particles ranges from 1.14 to 1.52 and suggests a soot (carbon)-based composition. The analysis of some metallic species (As, Pb, Cd, Cu, Ni, Cr, Co, Al, Mn, Zn, and Fe) shows that these species are essentially attached to the nanoscale particles per gram of carbon released. By considering the diffusion of the nanomaterials into different environmental compartments, our results suggest a new emerging and global contamination of the environment by cigarette butts, comparable to plastic litter, which urgently needs to be considered.
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Quentin Chevalier, Hind El Hadri, Patrice Petitjean, Martine Bouhnik-Le Coz, Stephanie Reynaud, et al.. Nano-litter from cigarette butts: Environmental implications and urgent consideration. Chemosphere, Elsevier, 2018, 194, pp.125-130. ⟨10.1016/j.chemosphere.2017.11.158⟩. ⟨insu-01652616⟩

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