By John Mannifield
Plastic! A new research published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology has shown that the average adult around the world consumers approximately 2,000 microplastics per year. Ever since microplastics were found in Sea Salt several years ago, researchers have conducted studies revealing 90% of the worlds top salt brands contain microplastic. Contributing factors are no doubt a result of the worlds massive plastic pollution epidemic. Global Pattern of Microplastics (MPs) in Commercial Food-Grade Salts:
Previous studies have identified microplastics (MPs) in commercial table salts but could not exactly address the origin of the MPs because of several limitations. The present study is based on the hypothesis that commercial sea salts can act as an indicator of MP pollution in the surrounding environment unless the MPs are filtered out during the manufacturing process. A total of 39 different salt brands produced at geospatially different sites, including 28 sea salt brands from 16 countries/regions on six continents, were investigated. A wide range of MP content (in number of MPs per kg of salt; n/kg) was found: 0–1674 n/kg (excluding one outlier of 13 629 n/kg) in sea salts, 0–148 n/kg in rock salt, and 28–462 n/kg in lake salt. Relatively high MP content was identified in sea salts produced in Asian countries/regions. The abundance of MPs in unrefined sea salts (n = 25) exhibited significant linear correlations with plastic emissions from worldwide rivers (r2= 0.33; p = 0.003) and with the MP pollution levels in surrounding seawater (r2= 0.46; p = 0.021) in the published literature. The results indicate that not only is Asia a hot spot of global plastic pollution, as previous studies have suggested, but also that sea salt can be a good indicator of the magnitude of MP pollution in the surrounding marine environment.
Plastic pollution has been well documented in natural environments, including the open waters and sediments within lakes and rivers, the open ocean and even the air, but less attention has been paid to synthetic polymers in human consumables. Since multiple toxicity studies indicate risks to human health when plastic particles are ingested, more needs to be known about the presence and abundance of anthropogenic particles in human foods and beverages.
Indonesia, it was found in an unrelated 2015 study, has the world’s second-highest level of plastic pollution. The researchers in South Korea discovered that the country’s table salt brands also contain the most microplastics.
Sherri Mason, a professor at the State University of New York in Fredonia, who partnered with researchers at the University of Minnesota on a separate salt study, said in an interview the new findings add “another piece to the puzzle” to assessing the impact of microplastics. “That fact that they found higher counts in Asia is interesting. While not surprising, you still have to have the data”, she says. “The earlier studies found traces of microplastics in salt products sold in those countries, but we haven’t known how much”.
A separate study by the University of York in Britain that sought to assess the risks of microplastics to the environment, published Wednesday, concluded not enough is known to determine if microplastics cause harm.
The review of 320 existing studies found “major knowledge gaps” in scientific understanding of the impact of microplastics. The studies examined different types of microplastics, including microbeads, fragments, and fibres, leading to a “mismatch” of data that makes comparisons akin to comparing “apples to pears”, Alistair Boxall, a University of York geography professor and co-author of the study, said in a statement.
“Based on our analysis, there is currently limited evidence to suggest microplastics are causing significant adverse impacts”, he said. “There is an urgent need for better quality and more holistic monitoring studies alongside more environmentally realistic effects studies on the particle sizes and material types that are actually in the environment”.
Boxall added that the focus on microplastics may divert attention from worse environmental (and more easily identifiable) pollution problems, such as small particles released from car tires.
I for one have to ask, since when is plastic in any form no matter how small in size become a food group? Are we to believe because there is limited research on the matter, that plastic appearing in our foods is just fine and dandy. With the likes of Boxall, we might add that ok, well since there is limited research and scientific proof that consuming rat turds potentially found in our food causes harm to our health and bodies, that it's just a distraction for other pressing matters with food contamination. Bravo Mr.Boxall, well done.
Other research into plastic contamination have found that over the counter plastic water bottles are now printed with expiration dates. These dates aren't printed because the water itself has a shelf life when properly stored, but that the plastic containers themselves have a shelf life as to were after such time, it has been shown that product leeching is a result. Product leeching is a process that research shows plastics over time, can release it's chemical processes into the contents of a given product - our foods.
This would also imply that any type of consumable goods, whether it be drinking water or food types, can and will absorb plastic and the chemicals used to produce plastic containers. At the end of the day, plastic has become an epidemic, not only an epidemic for health reasons, but as a global waste issue. Since plastic has become the new way to package everything under the sun, this too will have have a monetary override concerning our health due to the strong arming of the multi-billion dollar plastic manufacturing industry.
We should wonder what good is the Food & Drug Administration and other regulatory commissions around the world who are suppose to protect our foods. Interestingly they rarely find anything wrong with our foods themselves, but rely on 3rd party research which in turn seems to be more of a "cover our ass response" since they themselves do not feel the need to conduct tests on foods until it's revealed by other scientists and research teams first.
Like anything else that is a cash cow for the ruling corporate elite, whether plastic proves to be a major health risk, any research that shows plastic to be such, will be rebuttal-ed for the sake of the all mighty dollar. It's becoming increasingly clear that consumer protectionism is the least thing governments care about and will only show its concern when research proves there inability to protect our health and our foods. Even then, the pay offs of the "Too Big To Fail" capitalistic elite will protect its own. One thing comes to mind - Killing us softly...
Has a BA in Computer Science and in Business Branding & Marketing. With over 25 years experience in Information Technology - from network engineering to web based development to social media marketing, he has literally grown up with the x86 architecture and has used his talents in many areas of this industry. Other areas of interest include ufology, astronomy, ancient history, theoretical physics and spiritual enlightenment. In his spare time, John can be found enjoying motocross, guitars, music and the boating lifestyle. With a strong analytical capabilities he has recently used his strengths as a research journalist, stemming from years as a copywriter, content creation management and author/editor of computer hardware reviews for several top tier technology websites.