Sweet findings

German researchers have found that sewage treatment plants fail to completely remove artificial sweeteners from wastewater.

Marco Scheurer, Heinz-Jürgen Brauch and Frank Thomas Lange from the Water Technology Center in Karlsruhe did so using a novel analytical method that simultaneously analyses water for the presence of cyclamate, acesulfame, saccharin, aspartame, neotame, neohesperidin dihydrochalcone and sucralose – seven commonly used artificial sweeteners

Scheurer and his colleagues collected water samples from two sewage treatment plants in Germany – Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen and Karlsruhe – as well as from a soil aquifer treatment site located in a Mediterranean country that treats secondary effluent from a sewage treatment plant.

They tested the water samples using the method and detected four – acesulfame, saccharin, cyclamate and sucralose – of the seven sweeteners in the waters from the two German sewage treatment plants, indicating that the plants had failed to completely eliminate the sweeteners during the wastewater treatment process.

Their analyses also showed that the pollutants contaminated rivers and streams receiving water from the sewage treatment plants.

The findings were published online this week in Springer’s journal Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry.