IIT-B study finds microplastic in table salt brands

Last Updated 03 October 2018, 04:15 IST

A study by a two-member team of the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) has found the presence of microplastic in several table salt brands in the country.

Microplastics are small pieces of plastic usually measuring less than 5 milli metre in diameter formed by the product's gradual degradation in the environment, especially the sea.

The team from IIT-B's Centre for Environmental Science and Engineering (CESE) found 626 microplastic particles in the tested samples.

The study stated that 63% of the microplastic particles were in the form of fragments and 37% were fibres.

The study found that 63.76 microgram (or 0.063 milligram) of microplastic was found per kilogram of salt tested.

It further revealed that Indians were consuming about 117 microgram (0.117 milligram) of microplastic annually if the average person has a daily salt intake of 5 gram.

The study, titled Contamination of Indian Sea Salts with Microplastics and a Potential Prevention Strategy was co-authored by Professor Amritanshu Shriwastav and Chandan Krishna Seth of the CESE.

It was published on August 25 in the Environmental Science and Pollution Research, an international peer-reviewed journal.

"India is among three largest producers of salt for domestic consumption as well as industrial purposes. Hence a study was needed and it has now backed the global discourse on rising presence of microplastics in our food chain," said Professor Shriwastav.

"This is a comparatively recent development where scientists have started to find the presence of plastic. This is because there are no checks on how and what is being dumped into the sea," an IIT-B official said.

The official, however, added that there was no study available to link the increased consumption of microplastic to health related issues.

Professor Shriwastav claimed that around 85% of microplastic, by weight, can be eliminated by employing the simple sand filtration technique.

(Published 03 September 2018, 15:02 IST)

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