Microplastics found in five local sugar brands: Study

Microplastics found in five local sugar brands: Study

Staff Correspondentdaily-bangladesh.com

Published: 16:30 13 May 2022   Updated: 16:31 13 May 2022

Sugar; File Photo

Sugar; File Photo

A team of researchers from Jahangirnagar University has found “alarming levels of microplastics” in five brands and two non-brands of sugar in the country’s market.

According to researchers, the amount of these microplastics is so high that an average of “10.2 tonnes of microplastic particles can enter the body of the total population of the country only through sugar”.

The researchers found an average of 343.6 plastic particles per kg in five popular brands and two non-brand sugars collected from different supermarkets in Dhaka. Most particles are smaller than 300 micrometers and are black, pink, blue and brown in color. 

Besides, these plastic particles include chemical elements called ABS, PVC, PET, EVA, CA, PTFE, HDPE, PC and nylon. 

However, the researchers did not reveal the names of the brands tested as samples in the study. 

The popular science journal “Science of the Total Environment” has accepted the research paper for publication. It will be published very soon. However, a version of the research paper has already been published online. 

Dr. Mostafizur Rahman, head of the research team, said a recent study found the presence of microplastics in human blood. This time we have found evidence of its presence in sugar. Besides, we have also been able to identify the size, chemical nature and shape of microplastics. 

“The presence of microplastics in the human body or through various means of entry into the human body is “worrying”, at the same time, it is unfortunate that the research on how it affects our bodies is still very limited around the world,” he said.

“However, we have done and are doing research on different animals, including birds and frogs. In this, we noticed the effects of microplastics on the bodies of these animals. It does support other pollutants but also acts as a secondary vector. So it is creating a deadly threat to the human body.”

“We are speculating that plastic particles may have entered the sugar during “processing or packaging”. It is also likely to be present in imported sugar. So we think we need to be more careful in preventing the presence of these microplastics in sugar,” Dr. Mostafizur Rahman added.

According to the study, the use of plastic products has increased at an alarming rate in every sector of the world, including households and industries. The world’s plastic production was 37 million tonnes in 2020 – half of which was produced in Asia. 

Plastic particles have been found in foods such as shrimp, salt, flour, fruits, vegetables, beer, honey, milk and various snacks.