According to a new study conducted by researchers from the environmental organization Greenpeace, microplastics, plastic particles that are under 0.2 inches, are making the journey from the ocean to the dining table by way of table salt.

Researchers carrying out the study reported finding microplastic particles in 90% of the 39 table salt brands tested — the highest number of which came from salt sourced in Asia.

“Recent studies have found plastics in seafood, wildlife, tap water, and now in salt. It’s clear that there is no escape from this plastics crisis, especially as it continues to leak into our waterways and oceans,” said Mikyoung Kim, a campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia.

Looking at the data, the team discovered that the microplastic levels correlated with plastic pollution levels in the areas where salt had been sourced. As such, researchers determined that sea salt contained the highest level of plastic contamination with lake salt and rock salt following the lead. Researchers also noted that of the 39 brands of table salt tested, only three salt brands were microplastic-free. Those brands came from Taiwan (refined sea salt), mainland China (refined rock salt) and France (unrefined sea salt produced by solar evaporation).

Assuming that people ingest 10 grams of salt each day, researchers estimate that the average adult might be consuming nearly 2,000 microplastics each year through salt intake alone. While the impact of ingesting microplastics on human health is unknown, researchers believe that it “cannot possibly be good.”

“The findings suggest that human ingestion of microplastics via marine products is strongly related to plastic emissions in a given region,” said Professor Kim, Seung-Kyu, co-author of the study. “In order to limit our exposure to microplastics, preventative measures are required, such as controlling the environmental discharge of mismanaged plastics and more importantly, reducing plastic waste."

“We need to stop plastic pollution at its source. For the health of people and our environment, it’s incredibly important that corporations reduce their reliance on throwaway plastics immediately," continued Kim.

The study appears in the Environmental Science & Technology journal.

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