How To Get Rid of Dangerous Microplastics in Salt, Water, Cosmetics… Everywhere
Microplastics are everywhere and they’re damaging more than just the planet. Microplastics in salt, drinking water, food, cosmetics and toothpaste mean they wind up in you. Find out what to do about it. [Watch]
THE WORLD produces eight million metric tons of plastic that winds up in the oceans. It degrades into tiny bits of plastic called microplastics. They’re everywhere. Microplastics in salt, drinking water, food, cosmetics and toothpaste mean they wind up in you. Find out what to do about it. [Watch]
In this article, you’ll discover:
- What are microplastics
- How do microplastics get into salt, water, food, cosmetics, etc. [Watch]
- How do microplastics affect your health
- How you can purge microplastics in salt and everywhere else
Let’s dig in…
What Are Microplastics?
Microplastics are tiny bits of plastic, typically from polyethylene plastic. They are created intentionally and unintentionally.
When microplastics are intentionally created by various health and cosmetic companies they’re called “microbeads”. Microbeads are used to replace naturally occurring exfoliates.
The unintentional creation of microplastics occur from the degradation of larger pieces of plastics into bits so small they’re not visible to the eye. Such bits measure less than 5 millimeters (0.2 inches) in diameter.
Given that this world is choking on plastic, microplastics are everywhere — including in you!
Microplastics In Salt, Water, Food… Everywhere!
Plastic is the most prevalent type of marine debris found in our ocean and Great Lakes.
Each year eight million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans! That’s 10% of worldwide plastic production, equal to five grocery bags filled with plastic for every foot of coastline in the world. In 2025, the annual input is estimated to be about twice greater, or 10 bags full of plastic per foot of coastline. So the cumulative input for 2025 would be nearly 20 times the eight million metric tons estimate – 100 bags of plastic per foot of coastline in the world! (1)
In the most polluted places in the ocean, the mass of plastic exceeds the amount of plankton six times over (2)
Astoundingly, microplastics make up 94% of an estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic in the “Patch” (3)
What’s the “Patch”, you ask?
Well, let’s begin with two pictures:
(1) This is a picture of the Great Garbage Patch of plastic:
(2) This is a picture of where it’s located:
Apparently, the outlook is bleak. This graph projects that the total tonnage of plastics in the world’s oceans will get to 1,800 million tons by 2050:
You use cosmetics or toothpaste, yes?
Then spend two minutes watching this:
Microplastics In Salt
A widely reported on story of late concerns the microplastics in salt. Many articles have summarized a National Geographic article, Microplastics found in 90 percent of table salt and a study entitled, Microplastics in Seafood and the Implications for Human Health.
The National Geo article reports that microplastics were found in 90% of the table salt brands sampled worldwide.
Adults ingest 2,000 pieces of plastic in table salt on average each year! (4)
Sea salt is made from the evaporation of seawater, rather than being extracted from sedimentary deposits. It’s used for culinary purposes, as well as in cosmetics. Some people believe it offers a fuller taste than regular salt due to its coarser texture and different rate of dissolution. Sea salt is common in many parts of the world and is growing in popularity.
Of 39 salt brands tested, 36 had microplastics in them, according to a new analysis by researchers in South Korea and Greenpeace East Asia. Using prior salt studies, this new effort is the first of its scale to look at the geographical spread of microplastics in table salt and their correlation to where plastic pollution is found in the environment.
Those 39 brands — which were not named — operate in one or more of 21 countries in Europe, North and South America, Africa, and Asia. Of these, 28 were sea salts, nine were rock salts, and two were lake salts.
Only three of the samples were microplastics-free:
- a refined sea salt from Taiwan,
- a refined rock salt from China, and
- an unrefined sea salt in France produced by solar evaporation. (5)
Another salt free of microplastics is offered by Ava Jane’s Kitchen, called Colima Sea Salt. I haven’t tried it, but apparently it’s a coarse, unrefined, crunchy, moist sea salt that contains all the trace minerals our body needs.
Note: Mixed Reviews re China
Salt made in countries in Asia had by far the most microplastics of all the samples, which correlates with where plastic most often enters the ocean. Nine of the top 10 sea salts sampled with the highest amount of microplastics came from Asian countries. (6)
Microplastics In Your Tap and Bottled Water
Microplastics in salt largely come from sea water, but there’s plenty in the water you drink as well no matter where you live.
Tests show billions of people globally are drinking water contaminated by plastic particles, with 83% of samples found to be polluted.
Scores of tap water samples from more than a dozen nations were analyzed by scientists for an investigation by Orb Media, who shared the findings with the Guardian. Overall, 83% of water samples were contaminated with plastic fibers.
The US had the highest contamination rate, at 94%, with plastic fibers found in tap water sampled at sites including Congress buildings, the US Environmental Protection Agency’s headquarters and Trump Tower in New York. Lebanon and India had the next highest rates.
European nations including the UK, Germany and France had the lowest contamination rate, but at 72%, this should give little comfort to those living in Europe.
The average number of fibers found in each 500ml sample ranged from 4.8 in the US to 1.9 in Europe.
Tap Water Is Contaminated by Microplastic Throughout the World
Microplastics in tap and bottled water are not regulated, so it is up to you to remove microplastics and other contaminants from your drinking water, which I’ll address below in “How You Can Purge Microplastics From Your Body”.
Microplastics In Food
We’ve all seen those sad pictures and videos of various marine animals gulping down chunks of plastic or being entwined in it. That stuff is visible. What’s largely invisible is the microplastics ingested by plankton and on up the food chain, eventually to us.
This planktonic arrow worm, Sagitta setosa, has eaten a blue plastic fibre about 3mm long. Plankton support the entire marine food chain.
A Healthline.com article examining microplastics in food reports that:
- The most common food source of microplastics is seafood, given that microplastics are common in seawater where they’re consumed by plankton, fish and other marine organisms — even in those of deep-sea organisms, suggesting that microplastics are affecting even the most remote species.
- Studies have shown that certain fish mistake plastic for food, which can lead to toxic chemicals accumulating inside fish liver.
- Mussels and oysters are at a higher risk of microplastic contamination than most other species. A recent study found that mussels and oysters harvested for human consumption had 0.36–0.47 particles of microplastic per gram, meaning that shellfish consumers could ingest up to 11,000 particles of microplastic per year.
- One recent study examined 15 different brands of sea salt and found up to 273 microplastic particles per pound (600 particles per kilogram) of salt.
- Other studies have found up to 300 microplastic fibers per pound (660 fibers per kilogram) of honey and up to about 109 microplastic fragments per quart (109 fragments per liter) of beer.
Microplastics in Cosmetics, Toothpaste et al
Yes, by now it might sound stranger than fiction, but microplastics in the form of microbeads are used in cosmetics and body care products as a cheap additive that helps to exfoliate and sanitize.
As reported by Paleohacks.com, they can be found in lotions, sanitizers, toothpastes, and body scrubs, as well as other products. Microbeads also add color and texture to cosmetic products such as bronzer, blush, lipstick, gloss, and highlighters.
A single tube of facial scrub can contain upwards of 300,000 microbeads. If you own multiple products that contain microbeads, you could easily have more than a million in your home at any given time.
The microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products are made of different types of plastic, which have deleterious effects on human health. These are synthetic polymers, such as polyethylene, PLA (polylactide or polylactic acid), polypropylene, polystyrene, and polyethylene terephthalate.
Like many types of plastics we routinely use — such as plastic water bottles — microplastics/microbeads can have hormone-disrupting effects on your body, most notably through increasing estrogen. Overall, the disruption to hormones caused by these plastics can result in problems with reproductive hormones, thyroid, infertility, and even an increased risk of developing certain types of cancer.
Before you buy cosmetics, lotions, body scrubs — even toothpaste — read the labels and look up the ingredients on EWG.org
How Microplastics Affect Your Health
Clearly, humans are exposed to plastics of all kinds; microplastic particles are found in our seafood and water supply, in the air we breathe and in the dust in our home. How much damage microparticles in marine, freshwater and land ecosystems has on human health still needs to be determined, for although a number of studies have shown there are microplastics and microbeads and plastic-derived chemicals of all kinds inside our body, the damage they do us is uncertain.
That said, there’s plenty to be concerned about.
Back to that Healthline article, which makes the following assertions:
- Phthalates, a type of chemical used to make plastic flexible, have been shown to increase the growth of breast cancer cells. However, this research was carried out in a petri dish, so the results can’t be generalized to humans.
- When fed to mice, the microplastics accumulated in the liver, kidneys and intestines, and increased levels of oxidative stress molecules in the liver. They also increased the level of a molecule that may be toxic to the brain
- Microparticles including microplastics have been shown to pass from the intestines into the blood and potentially into other organs.
- Plastics have also been found in humans. One study found that plastic fibers were present in 87% of the human lungs studied. The researchers proposed this may be due to microplastics present in the air.
- Some studies have shown that microplastics in the air may cause lung cells to produce inflammatory chemicals. However, this has only been shown in test-tube studies.
- Bisphenol A (BPA) is one of the best studied chemicals found in plastic. It is usually found in plastic packaging or food storage containers and can leak out into food.
- Some evidence has shown that BPA can interfere with reproductive hormones, especially in women.
(References in support of these statements may be found here.)
Undoubtedly, plastic-derived chemicals and a long list of heavy metals — such as mercury, aluminum and lead — bioaccumulate in our bodies, and over time can potentially present us with a toxic burden that can sicken us and contribute to chronic diseases. In this there are two key things to consider:
- Your toxin load — how much is in you, and
- Your excretion capacity — how much of the toxins do your detoxification pathways eliminate from your body.
Tapp Water: The Dangers of Microplastics In Drinking Water
Research study: Microplastics in Seafood and the Implications for Human Health
How Can You Purge Microplastics From Your Body?
Before “the purge” is addressed, let’s consider how to minimizing how much microplastics from salt, water or anywhere else they touch your life.
It’s a simple idea — don’t get microplastics into your body to begin with. The folks at Organic Lifestyle Magazine have a good list to consider.
First — Avoid Plastic Contamination & Plastic Use
- Keep your home clean, and vacuum regularly
- Filter tap water
- Always avoid artificial fragrances
- Stay away from warm or hot plastics, don’t even breathe near them
- Avoid canned foods
- Avoid conventional personal care products like shampoos, soaps, moisturizers, makeup (Read labels and look up ingredients on EWG.org)
- Avoid conventional and big-ag produce (pesticides and herbicides have plastic residues)
- Cook your own foods using whole-food ingredients
- Stop using plastic straws, even in restaurants
- Purchase food, like cereal, pasta, and rice from bulk bins and fill a reusable bag or container
- Use paper or your own reusable shopping bags, bulk goods bags, and bring your own mesh produce bags (FYI: I suspect that many paper bags contain BPA and BPS)
- No more chewing gum, it’s made of plastic
- Buy boxes and glass instead of plastic bottles when possible
- Use a reusable bottle or mug for your beverages or coffee and soda refills (but you don’t drink that crap, do you?)
- Boycott any restaurant that still uses styrofoam – Why is that still a thing?
- Use matches or invest in a refillable metal lighter – avoid the plastic disposable ones
- Eat real, whole foods – fresh foods equates to less packaging and less previous plastic contact
- Don’t use plasticware ever, bring your own if need be
- Use cloth diapers – disposable diapers are extremely toxic to the environment and your baby
- Make your own cleaning products
- Pack your lunch in glass containers and reusable bags.
- Use a razor with replaceable blades instead of a disposable razor
- Find other disposal products that can be replaced by their non-disposable counterparts
- Minimize seafood, particularly shell fish
- Avoid cheap supplements and be wary of sports supplements
To the “avoid” list, I’d like to add:
- Trade in whatever salt you’re using to salt made in France.
- Filter your tap water with filtration systems that filter particles as small as 5 millimeters, such TAPP and Clearly Filtered (the one I use) brands.
Second — Purge the Plastic-derived Chemicals Inside Your Body
Carahealth has an excellent, detailed article on detoxification that I recommend you read. Yes, it can get wonky, but you’ll get a good sense about how our body detoxifies chemicals and heavy metals via our Phase I and II detoxification pathways.
What follows is Carahealth’s recommendation for detoxifying microplastics (which, by the way, will detoxify more than plastic stuff). For details about how these foods and supplements work, read the Carahealth article.
Purge the plastics with these foods and supplements:
- Regularly consume Calcium D-Glucarate containing vegetables, such cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, radishes, watercress, turnips, collard greens and kale.
- Globe artichoke contain flavonoids that upregulates the Phase I detoxification pathway.
- Berberine to increase endogenous antioxidants (those produced by the body).
- Milk thistle contains the active compound silymarin which restores depelted Glutathione (GSH) to aid Phase II detoxification processes and help protect the liver.
I would also add these to the mix:
- Activated charcoal: A tried and true detox supplement, the small pockets in carbon charcoal pick up and store anything from metals to cellular debris and synthetic substances like mircroplastics before leaving your body, useful huh?
- Folate: This B vitamin protects DNA, and enhances cellular repair, and although it does not directly detoxify mircoplastics, it can aid in keeping your cells safe from genetic damage caused by toxins like BPA and other bisphenols that sometimes leach out from them.
- Tea: Green, black, white, all have diuretic properties which helps your body get rid of excess fluids, not to mention the powerful anti-oxidant punch that they all have in store. (I love Gynostemma (AMPK Activator green tea.)
Read my article, Time For Your Toxic Heavy Metals Detox, Step by Step.
Remember (and do) these four things to substantially reduce your microplastics burden:
- Due to the prevalence of microplastics in salt, water, food and various cosmetics and toothpaste, you have them in your body. Over time, they — in combination to the rest of the toxic load from heavy metals and other chemicals — can potentially create a health hazard.
- Identify where microplastics might lurk in the things you consume and find alternatives. In the case of tap water, filter it. In the case of salt, find salt that’s not contaminated with microplastics, such as French salt.
- Eat vegetables rich in calcium d-glucarate, such cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, radishes, watercress, turnips, collard greens and kale.
- Regularly take the detoxifying supplements listed above and drink lots of that filtered water.
Before you go, take a look at How To Detoxify Yourself and Why You Absolutely Must.