Fighting Fine Particulate Pollution On NC Beaches


by Sarah Gilliam

Never doubt the potential of a determined individual. This can certainly be said about one mom living in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. Danielle Richardet and her three children, Chase, Claire and Henry, walk the beach and pick up cigarette butts, which are the most littered items in the world. “Ordinary, regular people are the ones that make the biggest differences in the world, every single day,” says Danielle Richardet who has picked up over 46,000 cigarette butts off our beaches. Cigarettes pose significant threats to marine animals and have lasting implications to our waterways and ocean.

“Cigarette filters are made from a material called cellulose acetate, [which are] plastic fibers that never biodegrade. The filters photodegrade into smaller pieces but cellulose acetate never disappears. Instead, it becomes diluted in our environment becoming part of our environment,” said Danielle in an article posted on

Danielle and her family’s daily actions are working towards positive change. With help from Surfrider’s Cape Fear Chapter, residents of Wrightsville Beach are pushing local leaders to make Wrightsville Beach the first ‘smoke-free’ beach in North Carolina.

“The residents of Wrightsville Beach are very concerned about this litter issue, as well as air quality concerns from second hand smoke,” said Ethan Crouch, local organizer with the Cape Fear Chapter of Surfrider. “Through the power of this community, we were able to get this issue on November’s ballot and now the citizens can vote on the future of our beaches.”

A clean beach but dirty air?

North Carolina recently made it illegal to smoke in public because of the known toxic health impacts of second hand smoke, namely fine particulate matter. Kelly Stryker, also a mother of three, has been active in the fight against Titan Cement for more than four years now. Kelly recently crunched some numbers and discovered that Titan’s smokestack will emit the same amount of fine particulate matter as if every man, woman and child in New Hanover County (all 190,000) smoked 7 packs of cigarettes a day.

“Our community can’t get where we need to in regards to air quality by taking one step forward and one step back,” says Kelly. “Reducing second hand smoke from cigarettes is a big step forward for our local air and water quality, especially to sensitive groups like children. Titan Cement is a big step back and our children need us to keep fighting to make our community clean and safe, one step at a time.”

Just how much particulate matter was that again? Titan was recently permitted by N.C. Division of Air Quality to emit 360 tons of particulate matter per year. That’s almost a ton (2,000 pounds) per day, every day for the next 50+ years Titan hopes to operate in this region. Particulate matter can lead to several human health issues like increased respiratory symptoms and cardiovascular diseases.

We are thankful for clean beaches, but we also deserve clean air.

Please take action with Moms Clean Air Force

This piece originally appeared at


Related Stories:

Ask Not How Clean But How Very Dirty Our Beaches Are

Fecal Bacteria May Be Hiding In Beach Sand

California Surfers Work To Conserve Their Favorite Spots


Photo credit: Stop Titan Action Network


federico bortoletto
federico b5 years ago

Grazie delle informazioni.

wchi wink
.5 years ago

Yes people who smoke filtered cigs should be very disciplined when it comes to keeping them from polluting the environment - better yet, smoke without filters!

Arlene M. Baladi

HOW much longer will it be before all humans are aware and conscious of the pollution that we cause on this earth?

Abbe A.
Azaima A5 years ago

Great information. Expose the polluters and hold them accountable.

Vicki Cook
Vicki Cook5 years ago

Keep the beaches clean for all of those who love going and using the beach!! I know I sure LOVE the beach!!

Shaheen N.
Shaheen N5 years ago

Thanks to Danielle Richardet & Kelly Stryker for helping in making of smoke free beach in NC

Monica D.
Monica D5 years ago

Kudos to this woman.

I think we need some changes to our economic system that is driving all this pollution. Otherwise the battles will continue, and will probably get worse. I like the ideas of CASSE at , to make the world a better place. I encourage everyone to consider signing the position statement at that site.

Debra Jobson
Debra Jobson5 years ago


Maria D'Oporto
Past Member 5 years ago

Kuddos to all the active moms wroking around the world making this a better world!!

Mukesh R.
Mukesh Ramteke5 years ago