With more and more artificial sweeteners being used in food products, people are wondering what kind of effects these can have on the world. One kind of sweetener, acesulfame potassium, receives fire from many organizations and people who claim that it is one of the most dangerous sweeteners. Are artificial sweeteners great products that will promote weight loss and lead to a leaner, fitter world, or do artificial sweeteners cause weight gain and health problems? What other effects can artificial sweeteners have on the environment? Can acesulfame potassium harm plant life? This question is the subject of this study.
Searching using search words “acesulfame potassium effects”, yielded 1,410 results, and the search words “the effect of artificial sweeteners on plant growth” yielded 8,050 results on Google Scholar from 2009 to 2013. The words “artificial sweeteners effects on animals” yielded 7,030 results from 2010 to 2014. This literature review has been organized around the following related topics: pollution in the environment, effects on bacteria and other microorganisms, and effects on humans and other mammals.
Pollution of Artificial Sweeteners in the Environment
Mawhinney and Young el al. (2011) have found the artificial sweetener, sucralose, in many sources of fresh water. The researchers found that sucralose was most prevalent in water sources impacted by waste water, as opposed to water that was not, such as that used for recreational use. It was also found that free chlorine or chloramines were not able to effectively filter out sucralose from water. The researchers stated that sucralose could be used to effectively indicate anthropogenic influence. The study also found that the concentration of sucralose did not greatly fluctuate.
Tollefsen, Nizzetto, and Huggett (2012) found that sucralose concentrations was gradually increasing in water sources. The study stated that 92% of sucralose ingested is found in feces or urine (Roberts et al., 2000). The study also said that sucralose and other sweeteners are difficult to filter out of water with standard cleaning methods. The researchers also found that sucralose had very little effect on most aquatic life including algae, though the researchers also stated that no study has ever researched the long term effects of sucralose exposure on fish.
Kokotou, Asimakopoulos, and Thomaidis (2012) found that many artificial sweeteners were found in water. These sweeteners include sucralose, acesulfame potassium, saccharin, cyclamate, alitame, neotame, aspartame, and neohesperidin dihydrochalcone. The researchers found acesulfame potassium is hydrophilic enough to penetrate ground water. The study also stated sweeteners such as saccharin, cyclamate, sucralose, and acesulfame potassium are of particular interest due to their high concentrations in aquatic environments and the difficulty of removing these sweeteners from waste water.
Effect of Artificial Sweeteners on Microorganisms