Sampled salt brands found to contain microplastics
(The Philippine Star) - October 25, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Environmentalists said that over 90 percent of sampled salt brands globally were found to contain microplastics, with the highest number coming from salt sourced in Asia.

The finding was based on a new study co-designed by Kim Seung-kyu, professor at Incheon University, and Greenpeace East Asia.

Greenpeace said the study, which has been published in Environmental Science & Technology, a peer-reviewed scientific journal, analyzed 39 various salt brands globally, showing that plastic contamination in sea salt was highest, followed by lake salt, then rock salt – an indicator of the levels of plastic pollution in areas where the salt was sourced. Only three of the salt brands studied did not contain any microplastic particles in the replicated samples.

“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,” said Kim Mik-young, campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia.

“We need to stop plastic pollution at its source. For the health of people and our environment, it’s incredibly important that corporations reduce their reliance on throwaway plastics immediately,” the group stressed.

Building on previous studies of microplastic pollution in salt, this research is the first of its scale to look at contaminant levels of the geographical spread of sea salt, and its correlation with environmental discharge and pollution levels of plastics.

The study highlights Asia as a hotspot for global plastic pollution, meaning that the ecosystem and human health in Asian marginal seas could potentially be at greater risk because of severe maritime microplastics pollution. In one Indonesian sea salt sample, researchers found the highest quantities of microplastics. The country is considered to be the second worst plastic emitter into the world’s oceans.

Assuming intake of 10 grams per day of salt, the average adult consumer could ingest approximately 2,000 microplastics each year through salt alone, as the study suggests. Even after discounting the highly contaminated Indonesian salt sample from this study, the average adult could still be consuming many hundreds of microplastics each year.

“The findings suggest that human ingestion of microplastics via marine products is strongly related to plastic emissions in a given region,” said Incheon professor Kim, corresponding author of the study. “In order to limit our exposure to microplastics, preventative measures are required, such as controlling the environmental discharge of mismanaged plastics and more importantly, reducing plastic waste,” he added.

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