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Sea Salts Found To Be Contaminated

5 months, 2 weeks ago

2892  0
Posted on Jan 01, 2019, 6 p.m.

Sea salt samples were found to be contaminated with trace amounts of microplastics in a study published in Scientific Reports. Microplastics are defined by experts as plastic particles smaller that 5 millimeters, and come from a range of sources such as industrial waste, plastic litter, and personal care products.

17 sea salt samples from France, Japan, Australia, Iran, South Africa, New Zealand, Portugal, and Malaysia were analyzed by aquatic toxicologists from the University Putra Malaysia. Potential microplastic particles larger than 0.149 mm were removed by the team during analysis. All but one sea salt sample from France were found to contain traces of microplastics after lab analysis. From the samples 72 types of microplastics were identified: 41.6% of these were plastic polymers; 23.6% were pigments; 5.50% were amorphous carbon; and 29.1% were unidentified particles.

Polypropylene was the most common plastic polymer found at 40% followed by polyethylene at 33.3%; fragments were the primary form of microplastics at 63.8% followed by filaments at 25.6%, and films at 10.6%. Low levels of anthropogenic particle intake from the salts warrants negligible health impacts, however further development in extraction protocols are needed to isolate smaller anthropogenic particles to understand the health risks associated, according to the researchers.

Recent findings support those of previous studies detecting traces of microplastics in sea salt. Environmental Science & Technology published a study in 2015 showing various types of salts purchased in a Chinese supermarket contained traces of microplastics, carried out by analyzing 15 brands of sea salts, lake salts, rocks, and well salts from underground deposits.

Sea salts were found to contain the highest amount of microplastics ranging from 550-681 particles per kilogram; well and rock salts were found to have had the lowest concentrations ranging from 7-204 particles per kilogram, suggesting salts taken from dry deposits may be contaminated during production.  

Ocean plastic pollution remains to be a worldwide problem; according to a research team in 2014 about 5.25 trillion plastic particles weighing over 268,940 tons are floating around at sea. 2 oceans regions in the Northern Hemisphere were noted to have had higher levels of plastic particles compared to the Southern Hemisphere; and the Indian Ocean had higher plastic particle count and weight as compared to the South Pacific and South Atlantic Oceans combined; findings were published in PLOS ONE.

Over the last few years whenever scientists have gone into the ocean to look for plastic it is almost always found. Plastic in the ocean at the levels that can be found is an atrocity and testament to humanity’s filthy habits. Microplastics are suspected to be toxic and may pose health concerns, we should be worried about them and how they may harm all life, explains Erik van Sebille from Utrecht University.

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