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Sweet water? UNCW study shows Splenda polluting waterways


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Splenda is one of America's most used artificial sweeteners, but a study from UNCW shows its key ingredient could be polluting area waterways.

Every day many of us use an artificial sweetener such as Splenda to sweeten our favorite cup of tea or coffee. However UNCW researchers recently found that the human body can only digest about 10 percent of the sucralose that Splenda is made of. For the other 90 percent, it goes straight into the Cape Fear River.

Fresh water. Salt water. Sweet water?

"It's a ubiquitous occurrence in all of the samples which we looked at," UNCW professor Ralph Meade said. "We began up in the upper Cape Fear River and basically worked our way down to the coastline and offshore to the Gulf Stream, and it was in every single one."

UNCW researchers found sucralose everywhere, and they say we humans are the reason it's in the water.

"Based on how much you eat or how much you drink, it goes right out, and from there it enters into the local waterways," Meade said.

The research team says they found no evidence sucralose harms fish or wildlife, but they say more research could be needed.

Johnson & Johnson, the makers of Splenda, say the research has already happened.

"More research has been done that repeats studies of sucralose in marinelife, such as fish and crustacean species," the company said in a statement. "The results from this recent research confirm that sucralose is not an environmental risk. Sucralose is one of the most extensively studied no-calorie sweeteners and has been used safely by millions of people around the globe for more than 20 years."

Though sucralose causes no harm to the environment it's still considered a pollutant since it doesn't occur naturally.

The UNCW study started with a student's masters thesis. The project was conducted by students under the supervision of UNCW professors.

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Important items to note

Mike McGill, Chief Communications Officer for CFPUA here. We provided some background information for Kate Queram on the original story by the StarNews, which also focused on the study and the environmental aspects of the detection of sucralose.

Two points that CFPUA would like to make clear. First, I spoke with the UNCW professors who conducted the survey last week. They tested their drinking water, supplied by CFPUA, to see if there was sucralose in the drinking water. Sucralose was NOT found in the drinking water in ANY amount.

Second, it is important to note that CFPUA's treated wastewater meets or exceeds all state and EPA standards. The amount of sucralose detected in the treated wastewater is in tiny amounts, parts per billion. The amount found is equal to dropping an aspirin-size tablet of sucralose in a body of water the size of multiple Olympic swimming pools.

Mr. McGuill...Guest Reply

Mr. McGuill...Guest Reply here....
Regardless of your explanation of results submitted by UNCW professors...answer me this situation...and explain why the results came out the way they did in a letter to me and my wife several years ago:
As follows:
The city was repairing/replacing a drain pipe underground in my front yard down by our street (on my property). I understand the city has a 3' right away allowance...all is fine with me on this.
What wasn't Ok the process of digging out the old pipe to install new pipe...the workers severed our sewer line, spilling gallons and gallons of raw sewage into the hole they had dug.'s the kicker:
1. The boss called me to the work area and asked if I knew what the pipe was that was severed! Guess he thought if I didn't know...all was Ok and would be considered...just an accident they would repair. Except though...the words (if I recall correctly) "City Sewer Dept." were embossed on the pipe they had damaged. I had to tell the work crew what they had just done. I was in the Aviation business at the time...not City Waterworks!!
2. Their supervisor ordered a Sump Truck here pumped out the water + sewage, and dumped it into a stream in our neighborhood that leads straight to the Cape Fear River. I had them on film doing this. A friend of mine whom was a member for Green Peace turned the film in to the EPA for evidence to investigate their actions. The report that came back to me and my wife, "from the 2 experts" that came to our house (that very day) to test the water that was sumped and dumped into this stream...stated what their findings showed was...get this..."SILT"...and only Silt! Hog Wash and Boulder Dash!!! They drew samples from the hole in my yard...not the stream it was dumped into...not both.
So....Convince us all of what you say and report to us is authentic and show the backing to what you say is true, and not just on the Forums section. Do an interview.
And film disappeared somewhere into the void after the authorities got it. My mistake back then was, I was too naive to make a copy of the recording...but back then I had trust in the people in charge. That's a thing of the past as I speak!
What do you believe happened for us to get test results of Silt with no findings of Sewage in their report to us?

Mike McGill

Vog46 here.

"Second, it is important to note that CFPUA's treated wastewater meets or exceeds all state and EPA standards."

Correct - however there are no standards for sucralose, no one knows if in fact sucralose is dangerous to plant, animal (sea or land) or human life so no "limits" have been published.
The fact that it is there - and not normally there - is disturbing, but not worrisome so far.
Your comment about "meeting and exceeding" seems a bit curious considering you can't meet and exceed something (a limit) that's not there - yet (for sucralose).



must have gotten in the water from all the raw sewage wilmington and new hanover county dumps in the water yearly


No, I think it is because everyone is peeing out sideout to keep from paying the waste treatment bills

Why Nothing Changes

OK, I am apparently just not smart because the wise cracks about what we do to the water we drink are not funny. All of this artificial, chemical junk which enriches the multi national companies causes serious illness. If you son't think that this is true, take a look at Europeans who have banned so many things that we ingest and see that they are healthy and NOT OBESE and can walk on their own knees after the age of 40!

they are a socialist country

they are a socialist country with bad teeth!! i walk on my feet also. Knees are made for praying and bending to sit down.

I'm thrilled to read about the effect of Splenda on our waters

It will make the fish taste much sweeter! This is wonderful news if true!


got a million dollar grant to tell us this...

The flip side of that

The flip side of that can cause tooth decay in the little fishes, and beaks of the Seagulls.
I'd rather a sweetener go into the dividing pond...instead of Poo any ole way though!!
Maybe they could add Splenda to the refining process of sewage at the 23rd Street plant...and eliminate that smell on hot-sticky summer nights.