Over the past few years, I think we all can agree that we’ve learned to be cautious when ingesting anything from the sea. While many of us were focused on researching the fish we ate, we all may have overlooked a from-the-sea product that could be equally as dangerous: sea salt.
That's right. Sea salt--and not because your sodium levels are through the roof, either. (Although, you know, chill on the Doritos.)
According to a Chinese study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, multiple sea salt brands contain tiny plastic particles. Yes, plastic is truly everywhere now. Thanks, technology!
In the study, “a team of researchers collected 15 brands of common salts (sourced from ocean, lakes, wells, and mines) sold at supermarkets throughout China,” Shape reports. “The scientists were looking for microplastics, the tiny plastic particles left over in various human products plastic bottles and bags, that are usually no larger than 5 millimeters in size.”
The researchers, unfortunately, found exactly what they were looking for.
While scientists discovered high amounts of microplastics in regular, old table salt, it was the sea salt that had the largest amount (around 1,200 plastic particles per pound) of contamination.
“The researchers calculated that an individual who consumes the recommended intake of salt from the World Health Organization (5 grams) would ingest about 1,000 plastic particles each year,” Shape reports. “But since most Americans consume double the daily recommended sodium count, that's a conservative estimate."
This research is disturbing, but it’s far from surprising. Earlier this year the journal Science published a study that revealed that back in 2010, “eight million tons of plastic trash ended up in the ocean from coastal countries—far more than the total that has been measured floating on the surface in the ocean's garbage patches,” National Geographic reports. The study also found that “the tonnage is on target to increase tenfold in the next decade unless the world finds a way to improve how garbage is collected and managed.”
Now, while you may be thinking, “this study was out of China… NBD. I'm not eating contaminated sea salt,” think again. Shape reports that China is the world’s largest sea salt producer. (It's time to start really looking at those labels...)
Now if that’s not a good enough reason to cut back your salt intake and plastic use, I don’t know what is.
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Image of sea salt from Shutterstock