Nature is a closed system and all we do to it will eventually come back to us in one form or another. Sometimes in a very surprising way – and very literally. We already know that the microplastics we wash down the drains – from our exfoliating face washes or synthetic clothing – get eaten by fish … and find their way back to us on our plates. But it turns out that plastic gets back to us through our diet in more ways than just that.
A new study published in Scientific Reports shows that microplastics can be found in sea salt. Researchers put sixteen brands of sea salt from eight countries under a microscope to see if they could find any foreign particles in their makeup. After dissolving the salt in water, they found that 72 particles remained – 30 of those were confirmed to be plastic, 17 pigments that once belonged to plastic, and four particles were dust. Twenty-one other particles could not be identified. The variety of the discovered plastics proved that they came almost certainly from the sea, not the process of the salt’s production.
Out of all the tested brands from different countries – Australia, France, Iran, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Portugal, and South Africa – only that from France was not found to be contaminated with microplastics.
When we think about it, this unsettling discovery makes all the sense in the world – every year, we dump around 8.8 million tons of plastic into the oceans. It is only realistic that this excess of waste would have a serious effect on the oceans and everything in them, and consequently, everything we take out of them. At this point, the concentration of plastic particles found in the salt is so low that it is not likely to affect our health – but that may change as we keep on discarding our plastic into the oceans.
“Plastic in the ocean is an atrocity, a testament to humanity’s filthy habits,” Erik van Sebille, oceanographer at Utrecht University studying global ocean circulation and plastic pollution told Hakai Magazine, “but we don’t know exactly what harm it does to marine life or to us.” Given what we do know about the nasty, toxic makeup of plastic products, we can only imagine that any potential impact would not be a good one.
Luckily, we can all help reduce the impact of plastics on the oceans and our own health by simply limiting the amount we use and discard every day – after all, the best way to solve a problem is to start at the source!
To learn about what you can do to limit your own use of plastic and generate less plastic waste, look into One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign.
Let’s #CrushPlastic! Click the graphic below for more information.
Image source: Karen Arnold/publicdomainpictures