It’s not just second-hand smoke or third-hand smoke, but also cigarette butts that litter our streets and beaches and get swept into storm water drains that cause significant harm.
Recent research spearheaded by Prof. Eunha Hoh with SDSU’s School of Public Health found that leachate from cigarette butts contaminates fresh water bodies, oceans and beaches and can harm human health. Chemicals in the leachate can trigger estrogen hormone receptors and aryl hydrocarbon receptors (proteins that regulate gene expression), significantly increasing their level in our bodies. This causes endocrine disruption, which is one of the pathways that could lead to cancer.
That cigarette butts create considerable amounts of litter is well-known, but now for the first time, environmental health scientist Hoh and her co-authors studied the direct effects of the toxicology on health and what they found is disturbing. Their findings show that outdoor smoking also causes harm, and there needs to be regulations on littering, in addition to indoor smoking bans. The paper was published in the American Chemical Society’s Chemical Research in Toxicology journal on July 9, 2019.
The study was also selected to be featured as one of the ACS Editor’s Choice papers that are available open-access, because “the subject of study is highly important and timely, and the findings are very important to the field of chemical toxicology”.