Believe it or not, salt is healthy and essential – as long you don’t eat too much of it. Processed foods contain heaps of salt, which is why doctors most Americans to monitor their salt intake at home. Before we get started, you might want to check what brand of salt you have at home.
Microplastics in the Ocean Contaminate Salt
Plastic is one of the biggest threats to marine wildlife. Plastic microbeads, in particular, have been found in the bellies of fish around the world. It’s so omnipresent in our waterways that plastic has been found in healthy, mineral-rich sea salt.
In fact, a new study that tested 17 brands of sea salt from eight different countries found traces of microplastics (MPs) in 15 of them (1).
These plastic particles, which measure between 1 and 100 micrometers are such a threat to our oceans that scientists are considering microplastic pollution the biggest “silent” environmental problem (2,3).
So how do microplastics in the ocean end up there?
When you wash synthetics fabrics, like the ones used in yoga and athletic clothes, tiny plastic fibers end up in our waterways. Other microplastic sources include the abrasive blasting industry and the cosmetic industry.
These plastics have reached popular sea salt sources such the Celtic sea. They’ve also been found in small rivers and lakes around the world. This means that salt and seafood are contaminated too.
Here’s what MPs look like:
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to calculate the health risk of MPs because of the scale of contamination. However, studies have confirmed that MPs contain toxic chemicals and microorganisms.
Human Annual Intake of Microplastics
So now that we know that MPs are out there, how many end up in our bodies? One study suggests that the average European consumer takes in 11,000 MPs yearly, many originating from mussels and oysters (4).