In an article published on May 10, 2017 by news provider EcoWatch, reporter Cassie Kelly informed about a new scientific study that found microplastic particles in commercially available sea salt. The study was published on April 6, 2017 in the peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports and conducted by researchers Ali Karami and colleagues from the Universiti Putra Malaysia, Monash University Malaysia, HORIBA Jobin Yvon S.A.S., France, and the University of Exeter, UK. The researchers tested 17 brands of sea salt originating from eight different countries (Australia, France, Iran, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Portugal, and South Africa) and purchased from a Malaysian market. Karami and colleagues extracted microplastic-like particles (> 149 µm) from the salts and then identified their polymer composition. All but one sea salt brand contained one to ten microplastic particles per kg of salt. In total, the researchers extracted 72 particles, 41.6% of which were plastic polymers, 23.6% were pigments, 5.5% were amorphous carbon, and 29.1% were not identified. Polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE) were the most common plastic polymers found, while the primary form of mircoplastic particles were fragments, followed by filaments and films.
Based on their results, Karami and colleagues estimated a maximum human ingestion of 37 plastic particles from sea salts per year and concluded that this “warrants negligible health impacts.” However, the authors called for “further development in extraction protocols . . . to isolate anthropogenic particles smaller than 149 μm” in order to “better understand the health risks associated with salt consumption.”
Cassie Kelly (May 10, 2017). “Even your sea salt contains microplastics.” EcoWatch
Karami, A. et al. (2017). “The presence of microplastics in commercial salts from different countries.” Scientific Reports (published online April 6, 2017).