Nanoplastics Detected in Commercial Sea Salt

Xuejun Ruan, Jianpeng Ao, Minglu Ma, Robin R. Jones, Juan Liu, Kejian Li, Qiuyue Ge, Guanjun Xu, Yangyang Liu, Tao Wang, Lifang Xie, Wei Wang, Wenbo You, Licheng Wang, Ventsislav K. Valev, Minbiao Ji, Liwu Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


People of all ages consume salt every day, but is it really just salt? Plastic nanoparticles [nanoplastics (NPs)] pose an increasing environmental threat and have begun to contaminate everyday salt in consumer goods. Herein, we developed a combined surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) and stimulated Raman scattering (SRS) approach that can realize the filtration, enrichment, and detection of NPs in commercial salt. The Au-loaded (50 nm) anodic alumina oxide substrate was used as the SERS substrate to explore the potential types of NP contaminants in salts. SRS was used to conduct imaging and quantify the presence of the NPs. SRS detection was successfully established through standard plastics, and NPs were identified through the match of the hydrocarbon group of the nanoparticles. Simultaneously, the NPs were quantified based on the high spatial resolution and rapid imaging of the SRS imaging platform. NPs in sea salts produced in Asia, Australasia, Europe, and the Atlantic were studied. We estimate that, depending on the location, an average person could be ingesting as many as 6 million NPs per year through the consumption of sea salt alone. The potential health hazards associated with NP ingestion should not be underestimated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9091-9101
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number21
Early online date6 May 2024
Publication statusPublished - 28 May 2024


  • nanoplastics
  • sea salt
  • SERS
  • SRS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry

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