June 19, 2009

Sweeteners may be in drinking water

Researchers in Germany demonstrated the presence of several artificial sweeteners used in food and drink in waste water.

Marco Scheurer, Heinz-Jurgen Brauch and Frank Thomas Lange of the Water Technology Center in Karlsruhe said a range of artificial sweeteners are commonly used in food and drinks, as well as drugs and sanitary products.

Use of a new analytical method, the researchers were able to look for seven different artificial sweeteners -- cyclamate, acesulfame, saccharin, aspartame, neotame, neohesperidin dihydrochalcone and sucralose -- simultaneously, and show that a number of commonly used artificial sweeteners are present in German waste and surface water.

The potential health risks of artificial sweeteners have been debated for some time, the study authors said.

Scheurer and colleagues collected water samples from two sewage treatment plants as well as from a soil aquifer treatment site that treats secondary effluent from a sewage treatment plant.

The study, published in the journal Analytical & Bioanalytical Chemistry, found acesulfame, saccharin, cyclamate, and sucralose in the water indicating incomplete elimination during waste water treatment. The analyses also showed the sweeteners appeared rivers and streams receiving water from the sewage treatment plants, the researchers said.