"CHATTANOOGA — Some researchers are putting cigarettes under the microscope in a study that could make smokers think twice about tossing their butts.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga study, intended to uncover the effects of discarded cigarette butts on the environment, shows that the metals and organic chemicals found in used cigarettes can leak out, contaminating water and killing microorganisms.
“We certainly have no trouble getting samples,” said Gretchen Potts, an associate professor of chemistry at UTC who started the research. “It’s pretty sad.”
More than 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are tossed in the United States every year, Potts said. One cigarette won’t contaminate the environment, but over time, trillions of discarded cigarettes could cause problems for microorganisms, she said."