FunNature & Animal90% of salt brands contain microplastics

90% of salt brands contain microplastics

Last year, a study published by researchers at the University of Alicante concluded that the salts extracted from all the salines analyzed in Spain contained microplastics. Now, a new study carried out at an international level with the participation of Greenpeace and the National University of Incheon (South Korea) reveals that 90% of the brands of salt analyzed worldwide contain this type of contaminant. Furthermore, it is striking that, although sea salt shows the highest concentrations, microplastics have also been detected in lake and rock salt.

This pollution problem especially affects the Asian continent, where the highest quantities have been detected. According to the calculation made by the researchers, each person in Asia could ingest 2,000 microplastics a year. In the case of Spain, and according to estimates made from the aforementioned 2017 study, it is thought that a person who does not exceed the World Health Organization’s daily salt intake recommendations would be ingesting around 510 plastic microparticles.

The new study has just been published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology and analyzes samples of 39 salts from 21 countries around the world. Only three of the brands investigated were free of microplastic particles : a refined sea salt from Taiwan, a refined rock salt from China, and an unrefined sea salt produced by solar evaporation in France.

“Recent studies have found plastics in shellfish, wildlife, tap water and now in salt. It is clear that there is no escape from this plastics crisis, especially as it continues to seep into our waterways and oceans ”, declared Julio Barea, campaign manager for Greenpeace Spain. “We need to stop plastic pollution at its source.

How do microplastics affect our health and the environment?

The study of microplastics and their consequences on the environment is still in its infancy, as it is a problem that was detected relatively recently. Due to this, we do not yet have any scientific evidence on the effects of ingesting microplastics on human health, although there is growing concern about the possibility that these pollutants release toxic substances.

On the other hand, some of the effects of microplastic pollution on ecosystems are already becoming known, since for example they can pass the blood-brain barrier of some fish and cause changes in their behavior. In addition, much is said about the problem of microplastics in seas and oceans but, according to a work published in the journal Global Change Ecology in December 2017, the terrestrial contamination by microplastics could be between four and twenty-three times greater than the oceanic one .

To stop this problem, the important thing is prevention, according to Kim, Seung-Kyu, author of this latest study. “To limit our exposure to microplastics, preventive measures are required, such as controlling the discharge into the environment of poorly managed plastics and, more importantly, reducing plastic waste.”

Reference: Kim, Ji-Su et al. (2018) Global Pattern of Microplastics (MPs) in Commercial Food-Grade Salts: Sea Salt as an Indicator of Seawater MP Pollution. Environmental Science & Technology. DOI: 10.1021 / acs.est.8b04180.

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