Recent research found that 90% of table salt used across the globe contained microplastics. Much of this is as a result of all the plastic waste in our oceans.

What are we eating?

The new research, undertaken by scientists in South Korea and Greenpeace East Asia, looks at the correlation between microplastics in table salt and how predominant it is in the environment where the salt came from.

Researchers used 39 samples of sea, rock and lake salt taken from 21 countries in Europe, North and South America, Africa, and Asia. 36 out of the 39 tested positive for microplastics, however, three samples came back plastic-free – they were samples from Taiwan, China and France!

Refining reduces plastic

The results varied in amounts of microplastic density, with most of the Asian brands ranking especially high. The highest quantities of microplastics were found in salt sold in Indonesia which is one of the countries that suffers extensive levels of plastic pollution in the world. China refines its table salt prior to packaging and as a result the samples were microplastic free – despite also being a country with high levels of plastic pollution.

It’s a direct result of our plastic-waste mismanagement

Samples from sea salt contained the highest density of microplastics. This is as a result of the 13 million metric tons of plastic that ends up in our oceans every year. Second was lake salt and finally rock salt.

“The findings suggest that human ingestion of microplastics via marine products is strongly related to emissions in a given region,” said Seung-Kyu Kim, a marine science professor at Incheon National University in South Korea.

The full research paper is published here in Environmental Science and Technology