Sea salt is contaminated by plastics

Sea salt around the world is contaminated by plastic, studies show

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Exclusive: New studies find microplastics in salt from the US, Europe and China, adding to evidence that plastic pollution is pervasive in the environment

Two fragments of blue microplastic surrounded by diatom phytoplankton (seen under a microscope) after being collected from the sea in a fine mesh trawl net.
Two fragments of blue microplastic surrounded by diatom phytoplankton (seen under a microscope) after being collected from the sea in a fine mesh trawl net. Photograph: Alex Hofford/EPA

Sea salt around the world has been contaminated by plastic pollution, adding to experts’ fears that microplastics are becoming ubiquitous in the environment and finding their way into the food chain via the salt in our diets.

Following this week’s revelations in the Guardian about levels of plastic contamination in tap water, new studies have shown that tiny particles have been found in sea salt in the UK, France and Spain, as well as China and now the US.

Researchers believe the majority of the contamination comes from microfibres and single-use plastics such as water bottles, items that comprise the majority of plastic waste. Up to 12.7m tonnes of plastic enters the world’s oceans every year, equivalent to dumping one garbage truck of plastic per minute into the world’s oceans, according to the United Nations.

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