Mediterranean waste Mediterranean waste

The Mediterranean’s Toxic Secret

Polluted water makes polluted sea salt

The Mediterranean Sea is one of the most contaminated seas in the world, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. At least 95% of the waste in this highly concentrated body of water is non-biodegradable plastic.[1]

The equivalent of 563 plastic bottles is dumped into the Mediterranean every second

Source: Euronews[2]

Trash floating in the Mediterranean


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IS PLASTIC IN YOUR SEA SALT?

  • Sea salt is produced through the evaporation of natural salt water sources.
  • Foreign material in that salt water, such as plastic pollution in the Mediterranean, does not evaporate – it remains condensed in most commercial sea salt.
  • When consumers use Mediterranean Sea salt, put this condensed plastic waste directly into their food.

“The Mediterranean is one of the emblematic places of our heritage and yet it is inexorably submerged under a torrent of plastics.”

- Isabelle Autissier, President of WWF France[2]

Nanoplastics Explained

As plastic pollutants stew in the Mediterranean Sea, exposure to sunlight, waves and sand continually degrade large pieces of contaminants into smaller and smaller particles known as nanoplastics.[8]

Plastic is not biodegradable. Even the smallest particles take several lifetimes to decompose, so once nanoplastics enter the human body, they remain in the blood and major organs.[14]

Nanoplastics are so small they are barely visible, even under the most advanced microscopes,[10] and they are found highly concentrated in Mediterranean Sea salt, fish and other plant and animal life, all of which are consumed by humans.

“It’s a plastic smog...”

-Marcus Eriksen, co-founder of 5 Gyres[9]

The effects nanoplastics have on the ecosystem cannot be understated, but even more urgent is the immediate effects they have on human health.

“Producing salt from contaminated bodies of water leads to plastic in your salt shaker.”

- Dave Asprey, New York Times Bestselling Author[12]

Human Health Concerns

Due to their microscopic size, nanoplastics can translocate across living cells into the circulatory and lymphatic systems when consumed.[5]

When these non-biodegradable nanoplastic particles enter the bloodstream, they collect in organs such as the brain, heart, and lungs – even in the placentas of pregnant women.[14][15][16]

Not only do nanoplastics collect in human and animal internal organs, their nature compromises immune function, growth, reproduction and neurological performance.[7][14] And that’s just what we have discovered so far.

While more and more scientists note that salt from the Mediterranean Sea is unsafe for human consumption,[15] consumers are growing increasingly aware of where their food is sourced.

Dangerous geographical conditions

With only two very narrow outlets allowing for water circulation,[4] the Mediterranean’s semi-enclosed geography dramatically increases the concentration of plastic waste.

The world’s oceans, on the other hand, are over 300 times larger in volume than the Mediterranean[4].

Mediterranean Sea overlaid on the United States to show scale

The surface area of the Mediterranean Sea is roughly ⅓ of that of the United States[4][5]

More than 20 countries border the Mediterranean Sea, a relatively small and shallow body of water.[2]

Constant tourist activity and uncontrolled industrial wastewater flow from all of these countries have caused a massive surge in sewage and plastic pollutants in the Mediterranean.

Countries and salt producers bordering the Mediterranean Sea

Salt is harvested from locations all over the Mediterranean, but because the conditions of the Mediterranean Sea continually trap waste, the amount of nanoplastics in salt continues to grow at an exponential rate.

55 g/km3

Atlantic
Ocean

97 g/km3

Pacific
Ocean

1,093 g/km3

Mediterranean Sea

Concentration calculations based on numbers from NCEI and Erik van Sebille et al.[4][7]

The future of mediterranean sea salt

One million tons of plastic have accumulated in the Mediterranean Sea, and plastic pollution is expected to double by 2040.[3] Consuming anything from this cesspool of pollution is increasingly dangerous.

It takes almost 100 years for a single drop of water to exit the sea through one of its two small outlets – by nature of its geography, the Mediterranean is effectively a bathtub of circling pollution.[6]

Just as the plastics pollute the Mediterranean Sea, they collect in and damage internal organs.[14]

At this very moment, nanoparticles continue to collect in shockingly high concentration in the Mediterranean Sea. This problem isn’t going away anytime soon.

Holding Your Salt Supplier Accountable

Salt from the Mediterranean is believed to be unsafe for human consumption, with more studies being conducted to prove its detrimental effect on the human body. It is more important than ever to know where your salt is sourced.

For more information about clean and safe sea salt options, visit the SafeSalt Association.