Caring about the environment is patriotic.
June 18th, 2009
If recent news about diet soda being linked to obesity and cardiovascular disease isn’t enough reason to make you put down that Coke Zero, here’s one more: It turns out that artificial sweeteners may be making their way into our water supply.
According to researchers at the Water Technology Center in Karlsruhe, Germany, sewage treatment plants fall short in removing artificial sweeteners from waste water, resulting in the contamination of rivers and streams that receive water from the plants.
Of the seven artificial sweeteners they looked for, the researchers were able to detect four (acesulfame, saccharin, cyclamate, and sucralose) in water from two German sewage treatment plants. All are frequently used in the US, with the exception of cyclamate, which was banned in 1969. And while this study, along with one released last month that detected the same four sweeteners in groundwater near Zurich, took place overseas, one has to wonder if our waste water treatment methods are any better equipped to eliminate these chemicals.
Considering that pharmaceuticals — including antibiotics, antidepressants, and sex hormones — have already found their way into the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans, and given our seemingly unquenchable thirst (sorry) for diet soda (a whopping 59 percent of Americans consume diet soft drinks), it’s probable that we’re now sipping just a wee bit of Splenda with that glass of ice water.
But here’s what I want to know: Forget polluting the water, forget the possible implications for wildlife. Why would you want to drink a beverage filled with chemicals that never break down? Or maybe at this point you’re like, “Screw it, if I’m going to end up ingesting it anyway, I may as well enjoy my Tab.” I think you know which side I’m on.