A new study has found that 90 percent of table salt brands across the globe contain microplastics. Conducted by researchers in South Korea and Greenpeace East Asia, the study tested 39 different brands of salt, out of which 36 were found to contain microplastics, as reported by National Geographic.
The presence of microplastics was discovered in the sea salt several years ago, but it had been unclear as to how extensively bits of plastics were spread throughout the most commonly used seasoning in the world.
Per the report, the new research is the first-ever effort to determine the spread of microplastics in table salt in accordance with the geographical location and how it is correlated to plastic pollution in the environment.
According to Seung-Kyu Kim, a marine science professor at Incheon National University in South Korea, the findings of the study suggest that “human ingestion of microplastics via marine products is strongly related to emissions in a given region,” the National Geographic report quoted him as saying.
The study took samples of salt from 21 different countries in North and South America, Asia, and Europe, and discovered that the three brands of salt that didn’t contain microplastics came from China, Taiwan, and France.
It was also discovered that brands from Asian countries contained a particularly high density of microplastics in the salt. The highest quantities of microplastics were found in Indonesian brands, which point out to the fact that the country suffers from the second-worst level of plastic pollution in the world, per unrelated research.
Microplastics are small pieces of plastic that come from the cosmetics and clothing industries. They are found in detergents, toothpaste, and exfoliating face and body products, to name a few. Per an article by Metro, a United Nations report has warned of the dangers associated with microplastics.
“The presence of microplastic in foodstuffs could potentially increase direct exposure of plastic-associated chemicals to humans and may present an attributable risk to human health.”
A separate study conducted by the University of York in Britain, however, suggests that there is not enough evidence to determine if microplastics cause harm. Per National Geographic, the co-author of the study, Alistair Boxall, said the following.
“Based on our analysis, there is currently limited evidence to suggest microplastics are causing significant adverse impacts. There is an urgent need for better quality and more holistic monitoring studies alongside more environmentally realistic effects studies on the particle sizes and material types that are actually in the environment.”