SHOCK: 90% of table salt contains tiny pieces of plastic
01/03/2019 // Cassie B. // Views

We now know that salt isn’t quite the enemy it has been made out to be when it comes to your blood pressure, but it could be having another negative impact on your health as a new study shows that 90 percent of the table salt used around the world contains tiny pieces of plastic.

It’s a startling finding, but it’s not all that unbelievable when you think about it. After all, oceans, seas and other bodies of water around the world are widely contaminated with microplastics these days, and much of the salt we use comes from this water.

In fact, of all the types of salt tested, sea salt was found to contain the highest levels of plastics, followed by salt from lakes and rock salt that is mined from salt deposits underground. These microplastics are small pieces of plastic that measure less than 5 millimeters, and they’re formed when larger items like plastic bottles break down.

The study, which was carried out by researchers at Incheon National University in South Korea and published in Environmental Science & Technology, looked at 39 brands of salt taken from 21 different countries. The findings suggest that the average adult is ingesting around 2,000 microplastics every year thanks to its presence in the planet’s bodies of water.

Not surprisingly, the levels of plastic pollution in particular geographical areas have been linked to the amount of microplastics those living there ingest each year.

For example, past studies have shown that Indonesia has the second highest level of plastic pollution in the world; the new study found the country’s table salts to have the highest microplastic contamination.


Just three table salts examined in the study did not contain microplastics: an unrefined French sea salt that was created by solar evaporation, a refined Chinese rock salt, and a refined Taiwanese sea salt. Names of specific brands were not disclosed. While microplastics have been found in sea salt sold in the U.S., U.K., Spain, and France, Asia is home to some of the world’s worst plastic pollution.

Plastic pollution is everywhere

According to the U.N., as much as 12.7 tons of plastic makes its way into the world’s oceans each year; this is equivalent to dumping a garbage truck filled with plastic into the ocean every minute. Most of the microplastic contamination is stemming from single-use plastics like drinking straws and water bottles, along with microfibers.

Last year, Spanish researchers found plastic in all of the 21 table salts they tested; the most prevalent one was the polyethylene terephthalate used in making plastic bottles.

It’s not just salt you have to worry about; other water-related products are also affected. A study carried out by researchers from the University of Minnesota found microplastics in beer and drinking water as well as salt. All 12 brands of beer that were tested in the Great Lakes area contained microplastics, with four particles per liter being the average.

Experts are concerned that a lack of studies means we don’t really know just how negatively this will impact human health in the long term. Not only are plastics dangerous on their own, but they also absorb the toxic chemicals found in seawater. They’re taken in by everything in the sea, from tiny plankton to shellfish and big fish, working their way up the food chain and putting humans at risk as well. One study estimated that people who eat shellfish could be eating as many as 11,000 particles of microplastic per year, while another estimated our annual consumption from tap water, salt and beer alone at 5,800 bits.

It’s growing increasingly difficult – if not downright impossible – to avoid ingesting microplastics these days. Studies have even shown that you could be eating 100 pieces of plastic per day via the household dust that makes its way to your dinner plate.

Although some factors seem beyond our control, there is still a lot we can do to stem the problem, and the first step is avoiding single-use plastics. Don’t buy health and beauty products with microbeads, and don’t buy or drink from plastic bottles. You should also invest in reusable bags and glass food containers if you’re not doing so already. If you take a closer look at your everyday habits, you may be surprised by how many ways you can minimize your plastic consumption to avoid contributing to this devastating plastic pollution problem.

Read for more articles about contaminants in the food supply.

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