Your salt shaker may be hiding a dirty secret. Microplastics are lurking in nearly 100% of table salt found on grocery store shelves, dining tables, and in kitchens worldwide.
If you thought only marine life was suffering the brunt of human’s ill-fated love affair with plastic, think again. Thanks to microfibers from clothing, widespread use of disposable plastic items, and inadequate environmental regulations, plastic has entangled itself within the food web.
An Ancient Spice Sullied
In a lot of places, sea water is often left to evaporate to leave behind piles of salt. Sadly, because of the proliferation of plastics in the oceans, salt processed in Asian countries tends to have higher levels of microplastics.
Sea salt is valued for its strong flavor, multiple health benefits, and as a rich source of nutrients. Consumers should take caution when using sea salt, as it has more contamination from microplastics than lake salt and rock salt.
Plastics With Nowhere To Go
Both wealthy industrial nations and poorer countries have contributed to plastic pollution. Microplastics form from ingredients in cosmetics, apparel, and inexpensive mass-produced goods. Oceans are not the only places that are littered with tons of plastics, as coastlines, beaches, and natural waterways get bogged down with refuse.
According to sources, by 2015 the world managed to produce 7.8 billion tons of plastic. The mismanagement of plastic waste around the world has led to plastics polluting rivers and oceans. Humans still need to work on reducing the demand for plastics and adhere to responsible disposal methods to prevent entry to the global food chain.
Beyond The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is not the only sore point where plastic pollution persists. The need for solutions to clean up the oceans and land where there are microplastics present is urgent.
When scientists discovered an enzyme that could potentially consume stubborn oil-based plastics in 2016, it was a glimmer of hope for dealing with the plastic problem. Efforts have been stepped up to scour the world’s oceans for plastics, with the hope of reversing the damage inflicted on the planet’s fragile ecosystem.
Food Chain Disrupted
Plastics in the ocean are not only a threat to marine life, as microplastic-tinged sea salt has been observed for years. Austrian researchers recently studied a small pool of participants and discovered the presence of microplastics in samples of human stool. The study’s results are troubling, as the participants all came from different countries and followed their typical eating habits.
There are ten common microplastics that are regularly found in the water, air, table salt, and even bottled drinks. Polyethylene is typically used in plastic shopping bags and bottles. Polypropylene is used in rope and bottle caps.
Human health is at risk. Plastics can build up in the intestines over time, triggering inflammation and stressing the immune system. Animals have been studied for years for evidence of microplastics in the food chain, and now humans can be added to the list as being affected.