Extraction of microplastics from commonly used sea salts in India and their toxicological evaluation

M. Sivagami, Selvambigai Manivannan, U. Devan, A. Antony Joseph Velangani, N. Karmegam, M. Biruntha, A. Arun, W. Kim, M. Govarthanan, P. Kumar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Microplastics (MPs) are one of the marine debris, accumulated in the ocean as a result of the successive breakdown of a large piece of plastics over several years. MPs are about less than 5 mM, have a detrimental impact on marine organisms/products (seafood/sea salts) and therefore they are considered as a global environmental pollutant. The occurrence and impact of MPs in commercial sea salts that are consumed by humans are not well studied so far. In the present study, we attempted to characterize and evaluate the in vitro toxicity of isolated MPs. Here, we have used ten brands of commercial sea salts of different origins for the identification and characterization of MPs. The average abundance of MPs in all commercial brands is < 700 MP/kg and the particle size range between 5.2 mM and 3.8 μM. The most common types of MPs were identified as fragments, fibers, and pellets. By Fourier-Transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), it was found that the MPs in abundance were made of cellophane (CP), polystyrene (PR), polyamide (PA) and polyarylether (PAR). Further, in vitro toxicity assessment revealed that HEK-293 cells get detached upon treatment with MPs (MIC-75 μg mL-1) Consequently, the AO/EB dual staining confirmed that the induction and rate of apoptosis were comparatively higher in microplastic treated HEK-293 cells. Taken together, the MPs identified are the origin of anthropogenic derivatives and they exert a lethal effect on human cells, which might be associated with health risk complications in human beings.
Original languageEnglish
Article number128181
Early online date29 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • Anthropogens
  • Cell death
  • Microplastics
  • Polymers
  • Sea salts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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