Testing Water Purity with Artificial Sweetners

streamA study by Swiss researchers uses artificial sweeteners to trace treated waste water back into the environment.  For years engineers have tested for caffeine to trace leaks in sewage systems.  Because caffeine is broken down by waste treatment facilities, testing for it is an excellent way to find leaks of untreated waste.  Using this concept, the Swiss sampled for tracers that are not broken down by waste treatment — certain types of artificial sweeteners.  One type was found almost everywhere — acesulfame potassium.  The study estimates that 10-20% of groundwater in Switzerland came from waste treatment facilities.  For more information, see here.

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