Sweet Pee - The Splenda Of It All

Sucralose or "Splenda", a.k.a. chlorinated sucrose, it turns out, is passed through our livers and kidneys with very little metabolic breakdown (98% pass through), and flows on it's sweet little way to the wastewater treatment plant (our societal liver of last resort), where, once again, it is barely degraded by the bugs prior to discharge (up to 10% degradation rate). Sort of like the drugs in water issue. Although there appears to be no bio-magnification in the food chain, and no evidence of mammalian toxicity, there are unresolved eco-tox concerns.

Sucralose, the sugar substitute better known to Canadians and Americans as Splenda, hit Norwegian food markets in 2005. A year later, scientists from the Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU) found the chemical to be omnipresent in the environment—in Oslo Fjord and in raw and treated wastewater. Now, scientists in Sweden report (PDF: 1.3 MB) finding it completely unchanged in wastewater effluent in Stockholm and elsewhere in Sweden.
This is one of those products that makes you want to ask: "Why do we even make this?" If you were to plot per capita consumption against overall obesity rate increase(s) over the last 20 years, there might even be a decent (though completely meaningless) correlation. It falls to government to fund any investigation of potential environmental effects. Which takes us back to the debate about the need for a "precautionary principle."

Via: ES&T;, "Artificial sweetener persists in the environment, Reports from Sweden and Norway show high levels of sucralose in wastewater effluent and surface waters." Image credit::ES&T;, Ben Mills, "Sucralose, an artificial sweetener with 600 times the sweetness of sugar, looks like sucrose. Its two –CH2Cl groups seemingly should make the chain very reactive, and its breakdown components are chlorinated monosaccharides, 1,6-dichloro-1,6-dideoxy-D-fructose and 4-chloro-4-deoxy-D-galactose, which also have unknown environmental effects."

Tags: Sweden


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