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Sci Rep. 2017 Apr 6;7:46173. doi: 10.1038/srep46173.

The presence of microplastics in commercial salts from different countries.

Author information

1
Laboratory of Aquatic Toxicology, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 Selangor, Malaysia.
2
Discipline of Chemical Engineering, School of Engineering, Monash University Malaysia, 47500 Selangor, Malaysia.
3
HORIBA Jobin Yvon S.A.S., 231, rue de Lille - 59650, Villeneuve d'Ascq, France.
4
College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, EX4 4QD, Devon, United Kingdom.

Abstract

The occurrence of microplastics (MPs) in saltwater bodies is relatively well studied, but nothing is known about their presence in most of the commercial salts that are widely consumed by humans across the globe. Here, we extracted MP-like particles larger than 149 μm from 17 salt brands originating from 8 different countries followed by the identification of their polymer composition using micro-Raman spectroscopy. Microplastics were absent in one brand while others contained between 1 to 10 MPs/Kg of salt. Out of the 72 extracted particles, 41.6% were plastic polymers, 23.6% were pigments, 5.50% were amorphous carbon, and 29.1% remained unidentified. The particle size (mean ± SD) was 515 ± 171 μm. The most common plastic polymers were polypropylene (40.0%) and polyethylene (33.3%). Fragments were the primary form of MPs (63.8%) followed by filaments (25.6%) and films (10.6%). According to our results, the low level of anthropogenic particles intake from the salts (maximum 37 particles per individual per annum) warrants negligible health impacts. However, to better understand the health risks associated with salt consumption, further development in extraction protocols are needed to isolate anthropogenic particles smaller than 149 μm.

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