Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington conducted a study on sucralose, better known as the artificial sweetener Splenda®. They were surprised to find samples of sucralose in all three states where wastewater was tested. Even more surprising is how sucralose is accumulating; apparently nothing is happening to break it down or get rid of it.
America Now reported UNCW’s disturbing find, saying:
For now, little is known about the impact, if any, a sweetener-laced ocean could have on the environment and wildlife.
Sucralose, also known as Splenda, is sugar that has been chlorinated. It fools your body into thinking it is not a source of energy, so your body cannot absorb calories from it.
Since it has no calories, sucralose is popular for use in baking and to sweeten coffee and tea. It is also added to more than 4,000 food and drink products as an artificial sweetener. Splenda is 600 times sweeter than sugar.
While only about 10 percent of sucralose is absorbed into the bloodstream after taking a swig of diet soda, the remaining 90 percent of the sucralose passes directly through your gastrointestinal tract and out into the toilet.
The sucralose, which remains unchanged chemically, thus ends up traveling through the sewer system to your local wastewater treatment plant. Since it cannot be filtered out, the sucralose is deposited into waterways, lakes and oceans.
The UNCW study reports that the amount of sucralose that ends up at the Wilmington, N.C. area alone each year is enough to fill up a dump truck.
But what are the effects of the sweetening on our oceans and marine life?
On their website, Splenda states their studies indicate that sucralose does not build up in the food chain so has no adverse effect on the environment.
Other scientists claim that since sucralose does not break down, the sweetener is circulating in waterways all around the globe. This was proven in the UNCW study, as samples obtained from treated wastewater in each area tested - North Carolina, Florida and Louisiana - all contained sucralose. Traces have even been found in the Gulf Stream.
In the UNCW study, researchers checked their own tap water for traces of sucralose, but found none. Researchers say, however, it is possible to re-ingest the artificial sweetener through drinking tap water.
Another concern is the long-term impact on the environment. If the human body can be "tricked" into believing Splenda is a zero calorie food, can the feeding habits of animals also be altered because sucralose mimics sugar while providing no nutritional value?
Only time, and more research, can tell the effects of sucralose on our oceans and wildlife.
One thing that is known, is how thousands of animals, including beagles, monkeys, rabbits and rodents, were poisoned and killed during the manufacturers study on sucralose. Read more about the sucralose animal testing at Sourcewatch.com.
To receive my future articles on other animal-related issues, please click on “Subscribe” above the "Comments" section. There is no cost to subscribe. You can also follow the Mansfield Animal Advocacy Examiner on Facebook.