Researchers in the US have discovered microplastics in sea salt and tap water consumed around the world, raising concerns about the impact on human health.
Experts at the State University of New York at Fredonia and the University of Minnesota assessed levels of plastic contamination in 12 different kids of salt, including 10 sea salts, which can be bought from supermarkets. From the results, they estimated that Americans could be ingesting more than 660 particles of plastic each year – though the figure is based on consumption of no more than the recommended 2.3g of salt per day, which most Americans exceed.
Plastics are “ubiquitous, in the air, water, the seafood we eat, the beer we drink, the salt we use – plastics are just everywhere”, the lead researcher Sherri Mason told the Guardian.
Sources of the plastic fibres include tyres, pre-production pellets and large items of plastic litter, like bottles and packaging.
The findings follow research published by Orb Media last week that found plastic fibres in 72% of tap water samples taken in European countries including the UK, Germany and France.
In Europe, a 500ml glass of water contains 1.9 fibres on average; in the US, where contamination levels are 94%, the figure is 4.8. Of the tap water samples analysed in 14 countries, 83% were contaminated with microscopic plastic fibres.
The researchers said more studies are needed to determine the potential impacts on human health.
Previous research has found microplastics in fish destined for human consumption, as well as beer, honey and sugar. The scale of the issuing is becoming increasing clear, but very little is know about the potential impact on human health.