On the whole, humans toss a whopping 13 million metric tons of plastic into the planet's oceans each year. Is it really any wonder our bad habits are finally coming back to haunt us?
A recent study published in Scientific Reports reveals that 15 sea salt brands from all over the world—Australia, Iran, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Portugal, and South Africa—are contaminated with microparticles of plastic. The only one that wasn't, somewhat unsurprisingly, was a French brand.
- Salted Caramel Pie
- Why Do We Consume So Much Salt?
- Brandade de Morue au Gratin (Whipped Salt Cod Gratin)
Yes, that means we're eating the stuff all the time—and tiny as the particles are, it's certainly a more substantial amount of plastic than we should ever be consuming. But it does make sense: A 2014 study found that 5 trillion plastic pieces are floating through the planet's water bodies, and 92% of these pieces are less than five millimeters long.
In the latest study, researchers tested 16 brands from eight countries, dissolving the salt in water in order to examine and identify the 72 particles that were left behind. Here's what they found: A nearly unbelievable 30 of those particles were plastic, while 17 were confirmed to be pigment from plastic, and four were dust. The 21 remaining particles were reportedly unable to be identified.
It's true that the plastic found within the salt could have just as likely been contamination from the salt's actual production (and not from the ocean where it was initially found). However, the fact that so many different varieties of plastic were identified clued the researchers into the fact that these were almost certainly contaminants from the water itself. They'd clearly been derived from all different substances and items from all over the world.
Well, maybe this is the wake-up call we need in order to get serious about our salt habits. Unhealthy and full of plastic? No, thank you.