Not So Sweet

Two different kinds of wastewater treatment failed to remove artificial sweeteners from wastewater.©

A recent study has shown that wastewater carries some unnatural additives—pollutants that may also be present in drinking water. Researchers at the Water Technology Center in Karlsruhe, Germany, found artificial sweeteners in water even after it had gone through sewage treatment. And these artificial sweeteners could be finding their way into drinking water.

The study, published in Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, relied on thorough analytical methods to measure the presence of seven different sweeteners in wastewater. After testing water at two different German treatment plants, the researchers found four of the seven additives in the water.

Artificial sweeteners are abundant in food and drinks, and often added to drugs and sanitary products as well. Whether or not these additives have any negative health effects has been the subject of debate for some time, and only one sweetener has ever been detected in the natural environment until now. Sucralose, a common sugar substitute, has turned up in water systems.

This most recent study showed that the sweeteners are present in rivers and streams that receive water from sewage treatment plants. Additionally, water was tested after going through two different kinds of treatment: conventional wastewater treatment and advanced wastewater treatment by soil aquifer. The artificial sweeteners were found in the water after both treatment methods, suggesting that even the more advanced method is not sufficient in removing these pollutants.

Marco Scheurer, one of the study’s co-authors, said: "Due to the use of artificial sweeteners as food additives, the occurrence of artificial sweetener traces in the aquatic environment might be a primary issue for consumer acceptance."

SOURCE: Science Daily