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Cigarette butts, dropped in their trillions every year around the globe, stop plants from growing, a team of experts found.
'**** ends' are the most littered item, with people dropping around 4.5 trillion of them globally and they can take more than a decade to break down.
Researchers - Anglia - Ruskin - University - Plastic
Researchers at Anglia Ruskin University found the plastic filters in these butts can stop grass and clover from growing normally.
In clover, which is vital for bees and absorbs pollution from diesel fumes, a quarter fewer seeds grew in soil containing cigarette filters.
Study - Cent - Grass - Result - Lawns
The study found 10 per cent less grass appeared - a result usually only seen in lawns and parks suffering from drought.
Experts believe chemicals used to make plastic cigarette filters cause plants stress in much the same way as a lack of water. Plants exposed to butts also had shorter stems and fewer roots.
Case - Cigarette - Butts - Plastic - Tobacco
As this was the case when the cigarette butts were unsmoked, it is the plastic rather than tobacco toxins that are likely to be to blame.
Lead author Dr Dannielle Green, senior lecturer in biology at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), said: 'Many smokers think cigarette butts quickly biodegrade and therefore don't really consider them as litter.
Reality - Filter - Type - Years - Decades
'In reality, the filter is made out of a type of bioplastic that can take years, if not decades, to break down.
'Dropping cigarette butts seems to be a socially acceptable form of littering and we need to raise awareness that the filters...
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