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Environmental Contamination by Various Artifical Sweeteners

Chemistry Seminar

12 PM 11 / 09 / 2012

CBB 102

Tommy Fortune

Environmental Contamination by Various Artificial Sweeteners

The ever growing concerns with artificial contaminants in the environment have garnered attention from many individuals. Artificial sweeteners are used in most foods as a sugar substitute because of their little to no caloric properties. Most artificial sweeteners are excreted mostly unchanged when ingested. The fact that the artificial sweeteners are hard to breakdown means that when excreted, the levels of artificial sweeteners in the environment increase. The increasing levels of some of the artificial sweeteners can have negative effects to the environment and life.

In the case of sucralose, about 90% of the molecule goes undigested when excreted. The sucralose concentration in such areas as river systems and waste water treatment plants can experience high levels of sucralose. The sucralose increase has been suspected to inhibit certain plants sugar metabolism and also possibly affect the behavior of certain aquatic life.

One concern that is of general interest is that the 10% of sucralose that is broke down by metabolism may have a metabolite that conjugates with the antioxidant, glutathione. This paired with the possible increasing levels of sucralose in drinking water, can possibly have a chronic toxicity that could lead to it being carcinogenic.

There are other artificial sweeteners that are of concern as contaminants in the environment, such as saccharin, acesulfame, neotame, and cyclamate. The techniques used to quantify and identify the existence of the artificial sweeteners in the environment vary little from each other but most incorporate the use of LC-MS to do the quantitative analysis.

The area that was chose for our testing was along Silver Bow Creek. The start of testing was just before the merger with the waste water treatment plant all the way to Warm Springs Ponds. Ten samples were taken along this section of the creek. The plan was to run the samples against a standard curve for sucralose on the LC-MS, but because of instrumental delays the samples were not run. There was a procedure borrowed from a literature paper that described how they quantified sucralose concentrations in there waste water using LC-MS. Other papers and procedures were borrowed in attempt to quantify sucralose. The methods were very similar, with only minor changes to retention times, and solvents. With further instrumental tinkering, the right procedure may be developed to work with our specific samples.