Fate of artificial sweeteners in wastewater treatment plants in New York State, U.S.A.
Environ Sci Technol. 2014 Dec 2 ;48(23):13668-74. Epub 2014 Nov 14. PMID: 25365516
Very few studies describe the fate of artificial sweeteners (ASWs) in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). In this study, mass loadings, removal efficiencies, and environmental emission of sucralose, saccharin, aspartame, and acesulfame were determined based on the concentrations measured in wastewater influent, primary effluent, effluent, suspended particulate matter (SPM), and sludge collected from two WWTPs in the Albany area of New York State, U.S.A. All ASWs were detected at a mean concentration that ranged from 0.13 (aspartame) to 29.4μg/L (sucralose) in wastewater influent, 0.49 (aspartame) to 27.7 μg/L (sucralose) in primary influent, 0.11 (aspartame) to 29.6 μg/L (sucralose) in effluent, and from 0.08 (aspartame) to 0.65 μg/g dw (sucralose) in sludge. Aspartame was found in 92% of influent SPM samples at a mean concentration of 444 ng/g dw, followed by acesulfame (92 ng/g) and saccharin (49 ng/g). The fraction of the total mass of ASWs sorbed to SPM was in the rank order: aspartame (50.4%)>acesulfame (10.9%)>saccharin and sucralose (0.8%). The sorption coefficients of ASWs ranged from 4.10 (saccharin) to 4540 L/kg (aspartame). Significant removal of aspartame (68.2%) and saccharin (90.3%) was found in WWTPs; however, sucralose and acesulfame were less efficiently removed (<2.0%). The total mass loading of sucralose, saccharin, and acesulfame in the WWTP that served a smaller population (∼15,000) was 1.3-1.5 times lower than that in another WWTP that served a larger population (∼100,000). The average daily loading of sucralose in both WWTPs (18.5 g/d/1000 people) was ∼2 times higher than the average loading of saccharin. The daily discharge of sucralose from the WWTPs was thehighest (17.6 g/d/1000 people), followed by acesulfame (1.22 g/d/1000 people), and saccharin (1.07 g/d/1000 people). Approximately, 1180 g of saccharin and 291 g of acesulfame were transformed in or removed daily from the two WWTPs. This is the first study to describe the fate of ASWs, including thefraction found in SPM and in sludge, in addition to the aqueous portion of wastewater in WWTPs.