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Presence, fate and effects of the intense sweetener sucralose in the aquatic environment

Tollefsen, Knut Erik, Nizzetto, Luca, Huggett, Duane B.
The Science of the total environment 2012 v.438 pp. 510-516
Algae, Crustacea, adverse effects, aquatic environment, bioaccumulation, biodegradation, chlorination, decision making, effluents, environmental assessment, environmental fate, fish, humans, metabolism, nontarget organisms, reproduction, risk, risk assessment, shrimp, soil organic matter, sorption, sucralose, sucrose, surface water, toxicity, toxicity testing, Europe, United States
Sucralose (1,6-dichloro-1,6-dideoxy-b-D-fructo-furanosyl 4-chloro-4-deoxy-a-D-galactopyranoside), sold under the trade name Splenda®, has been detected in municipal effluents and surface waters in the United States and Europe. The environmental presence of sucralose has led to interest in the possibility of toxic effects in non-target species. This review presents an environmental risk assessment of sucralose based on available data concerning its presence, fate and effects in the environment. Sucralose, which is made by selective chlorination of sucrose, is a highly stable compound, which undergoes negligible metabolism in mammals, including humans, and displays a low biodegradation potential in the environment. This intense sweetener is highly soluble in water, displays a low bioaccumulation potential and a low sorption potential to soil and organic matter, and thus is predominantly present in the water column. The predicted environmental concentration (PEC) for sucralose, based on measured data in surface waters, was determined to be 10μg/L. Aquatic toxicity studies using standardized, validated protocols used in regulatory decision making indicate that sucralose does not alter survival, growth and reproduction of aquatic organisms (such as plants, algae, crustaceans and fish) at concentrations >9000 times higher than those detected in the environment. Some studies, using non-standardized protocols, have reported behavioral and other non-traditional responses in aquatic organisms, but the relevance of these findings for assessing adverse effects on individuals and populations will require further investigation. In terms of traditional risk assessment, the proposed predicted no effect concentration for aquatic organisms (PNEC) was determined to be 0.93mg/L, based on the lowest no effect concentration (NOEC) from a validated chronic study with mysid shrimp and an application factor of 100. The resultant PEC/PNEC quotient was determined to be well below 1 (PEC/PNEC=0.08), thus indicating a limited risk to the environment using traditional ecological risk assessment approaches.