What's that in your beer? Actually you can't see it but there could be microplastics in your beer as well as in sea salt and even tap water. A recent study reports that beer is one of the latest victims of microplastic contamination. The study, which was published in PLOS, a peer-reviewed journal, tested 12 brands of beer sourcing water from the Great Lakes, 12 brands of internationally-sourced sea salt, and 159 samples of globally sourced tap water. Results founds that over 98% of anthropogenic particles, or those caused by humans, in all three categories were microplastic fibers.
As one of the most common types of marine debris, plastic finds its way to the ocean in many forms, from street litter to microbeads, according to the National Ocean Service. Once in the ocean, plastic continues to break down into smaller and smaller pieces. Microplastics consist of particles smaller than five millimeters—just tiny enough to pass through most filtration systems or be mistaken as food by marine life.
But, despite these troubling numbers, we may not be completely doomed to a plastic-polluted planet. In an effort to reduce microplastics, many cities around the world have begun cracking down on common sources, such as single-use plastic straws. This summer, Seattle is already set to ban the sippers city-wide, while Malibu plans to be next. In the UK, over 1,300 McDonald's locations recently decided to only offer straws upon request.
There are also simple ways you can help reduce plastic pollution in your neighborhood and at home. Switch to a reusable straw, as an alternative to using disposable ones, or opt for carrying a tote when you go grocery shopping instead of using the store's plastic bags. We're not expecting you to give up your favorite beer!