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Potential Environmental Risk Associated with Artificial Sweeteners

October 27, 2015

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Artificial sweeteners are a widely-used class of compounds designed to offer consumers an alternative to sugar. These sweeteners have been studied with respect to their human safety profiles and in some cases their environmental safety profiles. Given their widespread use and persistence, it is not surprising that these sweeteners have been detected in wastewater effluents, receiving streams and marine environments. To better understand potential risk, Waterborne has been employing state-of-the-art modeling (e.g. iSTREEM) and spatial analysis tools to understand the range of concentrations of these sweeteners that may be present in surface waters across North America.

The concentrations are being compared to ecotoxicological data produced following internationally acceptable protocols and practices (i.e. GLP). While we are in the process of evaluating the environmental risk of these compounds, there appears to be a large margin of safety between the concentrations of these sweeteners that are present in various surface waters and any adverse impacts to aquatic life. We continue to use iSTREEM to model the distribution of concentrations of sweeteners in rivers across North America. We are closely examining their presence at several local sites and comparing the modeled concentration to that reported in the literature. Once we evaluate these localized areas, we will have a more definitive understanding of the potential environmental risk of artificial sweeteners in North American surface waters.