[Pharmwaste] sucralose as an ESOC

Tenace, Laurie Laurie.Tenace at dep.state.fl.us
Mon Mar 21 09:34:12 EDT 2016


Fake sweeteners may seem like a good calorie-saving substitute for sugar. But researchers in Europe have now found traces of one of these sweeteners at five sites in the North Sea. That might be a problem, they warn. What makes the fake sugar helpful for waistlines, they say, could be bad for the environment.

This is one of the first studies to show that artificial sweeteners can end up far from shore in levels high enough to be detected, says Luca Nizzetto. This environmental scientist led the study. He works at the Norwegian Institute for Water Resources in Oslo.

The findings deal with sucralose. And they are concerning, Nizzetto says, because it's not yet clear how adding it to aquatic ecosystems may affect the plants and animals in them.

Sucralose is sold under the brand name of Splenda. Many people and food companies use it to sweeten such things as desserts, breads and sodas. Sucralose is a diet aid because the human body doesn't break it down and use it to fuel activities. Instead, the body excretes it in urine and feces.

Once flushed down the toilet, sucralose heads to water-treatment plants. These facilities are designed to remove pollutants from wastewater. But they aren't great at removing the fake sugar<https://student.societyforscience.org/article/artificial-sweeteners-pollute-streams>. One study found that at least 98 percent of sucralose in water gets through such treatment plants. That allows it to pollute streams, groundwater - even drinking water.

Ultimately, some of the fake sugar has been washing out to sea, Nizzetto and his colleagues now report. Their new findings appeared early online, March 9, in the Journal of Marine Systems.

Sweetener was prevalent and plentiful

The team looked for traces of pollutants at five sites in the North Sea. They found pesticides, drugs, beauty products and food additives. Sucralose was the most plentiful of all. It showed up in every sample. And sucralose levels were three to six times as high as that of any other sweetener.

There is no evidence that sucralose is toxic to people. But a few studies have hinted that this fake sugar might harm other animals and plants.

A 2012 study in the journal Chemosphere showed it could make some crustaceans swim either faster or slower than normal. Another recent study also found that mice fed sucralose throughout their lives could develop blood cancers. Those results were published January 29 in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health. Other researchers have suggested the sweetener may block the ability of plants to make food.

Sucralose's use has been increasing. That suggests that its abundance in the environment could grow, too. This concerns some scientists because so little is known about whether long-term exposure to fake sweeteners may pose risks to plants, says Valeria Dulio.

It's also not clear if the buildup of the fake sugar in seawater might indirectly affect people. How? Possibly, she says, by messing with the fish and other seafood we eat. Dulio is an environmental scientist at the National Institute for Industrial Environment and Risks in Verneuil-en-Halatte, France. Both she and Nizzetto are part of the NORMAN Network. It's an international group of labs and research centers that monitors environmental pollutants. The group has named sucralose an "emerging substance of concern."

The only way to stop sucralose from building up in the environment, Dulio says, is to stop using it.

Laurie Tenace
Environmental Specialist
Waste Reduction Section
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
2600 Blair Stone Road, MS4555
Tallahassee, FL  32399
Laurie.Tenace at dep.state.fl.us<mailto:Laurie.Tenace at dep.state.fl.us>

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