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Contamination of Indian sea salts with microplastics and a potential prevention strategy

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This study reports the contamination of Indian sea salts with different microplastic particles, as a consequence of using contaminated sea water. Samples from all eight brands of investigated sea salts were found contaminated, and concentrations of these particles ranged from 103 ± 39 to 56 ± 49 particles kg−1 of salt. Both fibers and fragments were observed with large variation in size. Eighty percent of the extracted fibers and the fragments were smaller than 2000 μm and 500 μm respectively. Extracted particles were mostly polyesters, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polyamide, polyethylene, and polystyrene. Their total mass concentration was also estimated as 63.76 μg kg−1 of salt. These results are significant, since India is a leading producer and exporter of sea salts. A simple sand filtration of artificially contaminated sea water could effectively (> 85% removal by weight and > 90% removal by number) remove these microplastics and has the potential for preventing the transfer of microplastics into the salt from contaminated sea waters.

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Sophisticated Analytical Instrument Facility (SAIF) at IIT Bombay, established with the support of Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, is acknowledged for providing access to the FTIR facility.


This work was partially supported by the IIT Bombay Seed Grant (16IRCCSG018).

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Correspondence to Amritanshu Shriwastav.

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Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues

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Seth, C.K., Shriwastav, A. Contamination of Indian sea salts with microplastics and a potential prevention strategy. Environ Sci Pollut Res 25, 30122–30131 (2018).

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