Published 6:37 PM EDT Oct 17, 2018
That sea salt you sprinkle on your gourmet meal or dessert might contain a not-so-desirable additive – microplastic.
That’s according to a new environmental study that found that 90 percent of the salts sold globally contain microplastics. Sea salt had the highest level of concentration, the study found.
Researchers from South Korea and Greenpeace East Asia analyzed 39 salt brands from 21 countries including the U.S., China and Europe. 36 of the brands were contaminated with the plastic fragments.
Microplastics are about the size of a sesame seed or smaller, measuring less than five millimeters long, according to the National Ocean Service. The pollutant comes from a variety of sources, including larger plastic debris in the ocean that breaks down into smaller bits from sun exposure and rough sea currents.
Sea salt is produced through evaporation of ocean water, often with little processing, which leaves behind trace minerals and other elements, including plastic.
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The findings, which have been published in Environmental Science & Technology, come on the heels of other microplastic studies that found the contaminant was abundant in beach sediment, rivers, lakes, and arctic ice.
“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 Mikyoung Kim, campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia in a statement.
“We need to stop plastic pollution at its source," said Kim. "For the health of people and our environment, it’s incredibly important that corporations reduce their reliance on throwaway plastics immediately.”
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