Mediterranean waste Mediterranean waste

The Mediterranean’s Toxic Secret

Polluted water makes polluted sea salt

The Mediterranean has the perfect conditions for a plastic trap, threatening human health and an increasing number of animal species.[1]

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

Source: Euronews[2]

Trash floating in the Mediterranean


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Plastic Pollution Facts:

  • 95% of waste in the Mediterranean Sea and on surrounding beaches is plastic, with many salt beds located along these shores.[1]
  • One million tons of plastic have accumulated in the Mediterranean Sea. This pollution is concentrated in each salt crystal.[3]
  • Plastic leakage could double by 2040, keeping salt from the Mediterranean polluted for the foreseeable future.[3]

Geography accelerates the problem

The Mediterranean is a small body of water with only two outlets.

The world’s oceans, which all flow together, 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]

Over 20 countries border the Mediterranean, leaking plastic pollutants into the sea.[2] Due to lack of recycling, rivers that flow into the sea are polluted, making the problem even worse.[1]

It takes almost 100 years for a drop of water to exit the sea, leaving it a bathtub of circling pollution.[6]

Countries and salt producers bordering the Mediterranean Sea

The Mediterranean’s semi-enclosed geography transforms plastics into microplastics and nanoplastics, with far higher concentration levels than the world’s oceans.

Grams of Microplastics per Cubic Kilometer:

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]

Microplastics and Nanoplastics Explained

Through years of degradation, plastic is ground into microplastics and then into tiny particles, called nanoplastics, no longer visible to the human eye.[8]

“It’s a plastic smog...”

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

These particles never fully decompose, and they threaten more than just the waters they invade—they enter our food chain through seafood and sea salt, threatening human health.[10]

Microplastics and Nanoplastics in sea salt

Consumers are concerned that their kitchen basics contain an unwanted dose of plastic.[11]

Ingestion of microplastics via marine products is strongly related to plastic emissions in a given region, such as the Mediterranean.[11]

Dirty salt in a table salt shaker

“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

When we eat fish or sea salt from the Mediterranean, we ingest nanoplastics into our digestive systems.[13]

When consumed, nanoplastics absorb through the skin, enter the bloodstream and are potentially harmful to the brain, heart, lungs and other organs.[14][15]

Sea salt from the Mediterranean may be far more hazardous than most people realize, and suppliers must be held accountable for providing safe salt.

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.

To verify your salt’s safety and purity, consider asking your supplier these questions:

Safe Salt Checklist

What body of water is your salt harvested from?

Is your salt from a single, trusted and reputable source and supply chain?

Are you registered with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)?

Are you in compliance with Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) regulations?

What additional measures do you take to guarantee clean, consistent salt?

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