Carcinogenic and Toxic Plastics Exist in 15 Sea Salt Brands
One new study has tested 16 different brands of sea salt from eight different countries. Unfortunately for all of us, 15 of them contained traced of microplastics (MPs).
What are Microplastics? They are plastic particles with size of only 1 – 1000 micrometer. Maybe they are so tiny, but they are so present out there that scientists consider microplastic pollution as the biggest environmental problem.
These toxic plastic particles often come from the textile industry. How? Well during laundry synthetic clothes are ending up in water supplies. Other industries, among others, that we can blame for this type of pollution are the cosmetics industry and the abrasive blasting industry and the cosmetics industry, among others.
The plastics from these industries have ended up in the Laurentian Great Lakes, Celtic sea (a popular sea salt source), Persian Gulf, and in sub-tropical gyres. All these water bodies are full of MPs, and therefore, the products that come from these sources are fish, clams and sea salt.
Studies claim that calculating human health risk due to MPs is not yet possible. However, the issue raises very big concern because MPs have been tested to contain microorganisms and toxic chemicals.
Human Annual Intake of Microplastics and Their Effect on Health
How many MPs do we consume? One study has calculated that a European consumer intakes up to 11,000 MPs every year. Much of these microplastics come from oysters and mussels.
Sea salt is another issue for those people who are living far from water and do not consume that many fish products. Salt is the number one food seasoning, and sea sat became so popular due to its healthy mineral content.
The study that tested sea salt calculated that if a person consumes the daily recommended amount of salt, they would intake about 37 MPs per year from salt alone. But MPs also end up in our system from mussels, clams, fish, and even beer and honey. The overall consumption of MPs raises a concern.
Which Sea Salt Contains The Most Plastic?
Other countries have smaller contamination rating.
The 16 brands the study has personally tested contained 72 completely different MP-like particles, out of which 30 were identified as plastic polymers, 17 as pigments that could be former plastics, 4 were non-plastic items, and 21 could not be identified.
The one pigment found of the most concern was lead chromate (yellow), which has been linked to cerebrovascular disease, cancer, and nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys) in humans. However, it has been found only in trace amounts.
The 30 plastic polymers found were made up of:
- polyethenes (plastic bags)
- polypropenes (coming from textiles and packaging)
- polyethylene terephthalate (synthetic fibers and plastic bottles)
- polyisoprene (resins and rubber)
- polyamide-6 (nylons)
- polyacrylonitrile (fibers used in fishing rods, bicycles, and other common items)
At high doses, these chemicals can cause cancer and liver toxicity. The study did say that “the low level of anthropogenic particles intake from the salts, which is maximum 37 particles per individual per year, gives negligible health impacts,”. But further research needs to be done to understand the health risks of salt consumption.
The Best and Worst Sea Salt Brands for Plastic Contamination
The most contaminated salt was from Portugal with 10 MPs per kilogram. Only one sample was found to have no MPs, and it came from France.
Here is a list of how the salt from all the countries rated from most to least contaminated:
16 MPs total. Portugal: up to 10 pigment particle MPs and up to 6 plastic polymer MPs
11. Australia: up to 2 plastic polymer MPs and 9 pigment particle MPs
4. France: up to 2 and 2 MPs of both kinds
4. South Africa: 3 plastic polymer MPs and 1 pigment particle MP
1. Japan: 1 plastic polymer MP1. Iran: 1 pigment particle MP
1. New Zealand: 1 pigment particle MP
1. Malaysia: up to 1 MP each
These findings show that a person intakes an average of 37 MPs from salt annually, not taking into consideration the fact that the other sources of sea products, fish, beer and honey. Even though the numbers are small, it’s the overall consumption of all MPs from all different sources over a lifetime that raises a concern.
The study authors say we need to treat these plastics as unhealthy, until we can prove otherwise.
But how can they be safe? There is a connection between most of these contaminants and health issues.
Unfortunately, every year the plastic contamination of the waters is becoming worse. Therefore, every year an estimated 10 billion pounds of plastics find their way into the ocean. By 2050, research predicts that there will be more plastic in the water than fish!