It’s a sad reality: our planet is choking on plastic. Plastic is everywhere, including in our water and land.
And, recent research has also found that plastic is also in the salt we consume. It’s present in healthy and mineral-abundant sea salt.
Unfortunately, a study that tested 16 different brands of sea salt from eight countries concluded that 15 of them had microplastic traces. Only one brand of sea salt was free of microplastics.
Microplastics Found in 15 Brands of Popular Sea Salt Brands
Microplastics are particles of plastic with a size that ranges from 1 and 1,000 micrometers. They’re tiny, but their amount is worrisome. Nowadays, pollution from microplastics is a significant environmental issue.
And, it’s not being addressed as much as it has to be.
Microplastics are toxic and come from various industries, including the textile. For example, microplastics from synthetic clothes end up polluting our water supplies when they’re washed in laundry machines.
Other industries to blame for pollution with microplastics are the abrasive blasting and cosmetics industries. Unfortunately, a large part of these industries’ waste ends up in the Celtic Sea, Persian Gulf, Laurentian Great Lakes, and other subtropical gyres.
These water bodies are full of microplastics and this also means that the products which come from them like fish, clams, and sea salt are contaminated as well.
How Much Microplastics Do We Consume & How Does It Affect Our Health?
In a study, the average European consumer was found to consume up to 11,000 microplastics annually. A large part of these microplastics comes from products like oysters and mussels.
Sea salt is also problematic. It’s the number one choice for seasoning globally and sea salt is increasingly popular due to its healthy presence of minerals.
In the above-mentioned study, the experts calculated that if an individual consumes the RDA of salt, they would consume around 37 microplastics per year from salt.
But, this number isn’t definitive because there are also microplastics that we consume from other food sources like fish, mussels, clams, honey, and beer.
Which Type of Sea Salt Has the Highest Amount of Plastic?
According to the findings of the study that tested sea salt from 16 different brands, the most contaminated type was the one coming from China. The scientists discovered that the Chinese sea salt from various brands had an average of 681 MPs per kilo.
The 15 contaminated brands of sea salt contained 72 different microplastic particles. 30 were plastic polymers, 17 were plastic pigments that may have been plastics, four were non-plastic items, and 21 remained unidentified.
One of the pigments that they found, although in trace amounts, and that was the most concerning one was lead chromate or yellow. This is because the pigment has been associated with cancer, cerebrovascular disease, and nephritis.
The 30 polymers from plastic were made of polypropenes (from textiles and packaging), polyethylenes (from plastic bags, polyethylene terephthalate (from synthetic fibers and plastic bottles), polyisoprene (from resins and rubber), polyamide-6 (from nylons), and polyacrylonitrile (from fibers used in fishing rods, bikes, and other items).
Unfortunately, high doses of these chemicals have been associated with cancer and liver toxicity. The authors of the study emphasized that additional research is necessary to get a better understanding of the health risks that arise from sea salt consumption.
After the Chinese brand, the Portugal sea salt contained the most contaminants. The only sea salt without any contaminants was from France.
The study didn’t specify the names of the brands of sea salt, but the country of origin of the samples used is known. These countries were Iran, France, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Malaysia, South Africa, and Portugal.