You might not think twice before adding a dash of salt to your meal. But a recent study has revealed that the salt we consume on a day-to-day basis may contain multiple tiny plastic particles, also known as microplastics.
The Greenpeace study, which was published on Oct 17 this year, suggested that an average adult consuming 10g of salt per day would be eating approximately 2,000 microplastics each year through salt alone.
The study analysed 39 salt brands across 21 countries and found microplastics in 36 of them. That is equivalent to more than 90 per cent of the sampled salt brands.
More alarmingly, it discovered that salt sourced in Asia contained the highest levels of plastic contamination.
Highlighting Asia as a hotspot for global plastic pollution, the study suggested that the ecosystem and human health in Asian marginal seas could potentially be at greater risk because of severe maritime microplastics pollution.
In particular, it said that Indonesia is considered to be the second worst plastic emitter into the world’s oceans. Researchers found the highest quantities of microplastics in one sea salt sample from Indonesia.
The study found that plastic contamination in sea salt was highest, followed by lake salt, then rock salt.
Mikyoung Kim, campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia, said: “Recent studies have found plastics in seafood, wildlife, tap water, and now in salt. It’s clear that there is no escape from this plastics crisis, especially as it continues to leak into our waterways and oceans.”
“The findings suggest that human ingestion of microplastics via marine products is strongly related to plastic emissions in a given region,” said Professor Kim, Seung-Kyu, corresponding author of the study.
As such, the study urged corporations and the public to reduce their reliance on single-use plastics, control the environmental discharge of mismanaged plastics, reduce plastic waste and to implement other preventative measures.
Recently, Austrian researchers also found evidence that microplastics were present in human feces. One of the causes highlighted was the consumption of sea animals, which consume some of the 18 billion pounds of plastic flow into oceans each year.
It remains unclear how microplastics affect the human body.