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Cigarette butts abundance and association of mercury and lead along the Persian Gulf beach: an initial investigation


The toxic metal contents of cigarette butts and distribution of cigarette butts have not been studied well in maritime environment. In the present study, cigarette butts distribution and the associations of Hg and Pb from cigarette butts were monitored along the Persian Gulf with 10 days interval sampling time. The number of cigarette butts, and Hg and Pb associations of butts were found to vary widely between 2 and 38 items per square meter, 2.5 and 86.32 ng/g cigarette butt (CB), as well as 650 and 8630 ng/g CB, respectively. Wilcoxon signed-rank test showed that there were no significant differences between the number of butts, and Hg and Pb contents of the butts at different sampling times. Considering amount of cigarette butts littered yearly, this study demonstrates that remarkable toxic metals of Hg and Pb may enter maritime environment each year and may introduce critical hazards to aquatic organisms, enter food chain, and finally human body.

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The authors are thankful to the Bushehr University of Medical Sciences for their financial and technical support to the present study as well as the laboratory staff of the Environmental Health Engineering Department for their cooperation. This project was partly supported by Iran National Science Foundation (Research Chair Award No. 95/INSF/44913).


This work was supported by the Bushehr University of Medical Sciences [grant numbers 9197].

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Correspondence to Sina Dobaradaran.

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Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues

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Dobaradaran, S., Schmidt, T.C., Nabipour, I. et al. Cigarette butts abundance and association of mercury and lead along the Persian Gulf beach: an initial investigation. Environ Sci Pollut Res 25, 5465–5473 (2018).

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  • Bushehr
  • Cigarette butts
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Persian Gulf