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A study published this week in "Environmental Science & Technology" sampled salt brands from around the world and found that 92 percent contained microplastics.
The problem of plastic pollution can seem really removed from everyday life, until you realize that you are literally spraying plastic on your food. A new study that tested 39 different brands of salt from around the world identified microplastics in 36 of them, or 92 percent. It's a stark reminder of how our addiction to single-use plastics is seeping into our ecosystems.
"Recent studies have found plastics in shellfish, wildlife, tap water and now in salt," Mikyoung Kim, an activist for Greenpeace East Asia, who contributed to the study, said in a press release. "Clearly there is no escape from this plastics crisis, especially as it continues to seep into our waterways and oceans."
The amount of plastic in salt varied widely by brand, according to the study, which was published this week in Environmental Science & Technology. There were three that had none, and some with as little as 28 pieces of microplastic per kilogram of salt, while the worst offenders had as many as 13,000 pieces of microplastic in one kilogram of salt.
A graph showing the amount of microplastics in each brand of salt
The concentration was higher in sea salt compared to lake salt and rock salt, and the highest levels were found in Asian brands, with Indonesia leading the concentration of microplastics. Based on these findings, the researchers estimate that the average adult consumes 2,000 pieces of microplastic each year from salt alone.
When plastic pollution enters the environment, it begins to break into smaller and smaller pieces. When those fragments become so small that they are barely visible, smaller than 5 millimeters, they are considered microplastics, and they often find their way into the food we eat, the water we drink, and the salt we spread.
We don't yet know what effect, if any, small pieces of plastic can consume on our bodies, but it's a safe assumption that we don't want to eat hard synthetic pieces of oil. As single-use plastics like bottled water and take-out containers have become more prolific, we've been generating millions of tons of waste each year, 91 percent of which is not recycled. If we don't want the amount of microplastics in our diet to start to rise, the best we can do is reduce our addiction to plastic.
Original article (in English)