Analysis of microplastics in various foods and assessment of aggregate human exposure via food consumption in korea

Dat Thanh Pham, Jinwoo Kim, Sang Hwa Lee, Juyang Kim, Dowoon Kim, Soonki Hong, Jaehak Jung, Jung Hwan Kwon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Evidence of microplastics in humans has recently been demonstrated. The primary route of human exposure to microplastics is consumption of contaminated food and water. However, quantitative estimations of exposure to microplastics are limited, which hinders human health risk assessments. In this study, abundances of microplastics were measured in eight food types, comprising 90 products of table salts, soy sauces, fish sauces, salted seafood, seaweed, honey, beer, and beverage. Aggregate human exposure to microplastics via food consumption was assessed based on the number and mass of microplastics, using deterministic calculations and Monte Carlo simulations. The determinations revealed that average adult Koreans likely ingest 1.4 × 10−4 and 3.1 × 10−4 g of microplastics per week, respectively. These results are orders of magnitude smaller than earlier estimates of 0.1–5 g of microplastics per week that likely chose experimental outliers. Therefore, careful selection of literature data and estimation methods is needed to provide more realistic exposure estimations from microplastic counts. This study extends our understanding of MP occurrence in food and provides a more thorough estimate of aggregate microplastic exposure via food consumption.

Original languageEnglish
Article number121153
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Apr 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a grant ( 20162MFDS029 ) from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety of Korea in 2021 and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grants funded by the Korean government ( MEST ) [grant number 2020R1A2C2009244 ].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier Ltd


  • Food analysis
  • Human health
  • Ingestion
  • Microplastics
  • Risk assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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