Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 19, pp 19078–19096 | Cite as

Review on the determination and distribution patterns of a widespread contaminant artificial sweetener in the environment

  • Jingyang LuoEmail author
  • Lijuan Wu
  • Qin ZhangEmail author
  • Yang Wu
  • Fang Fang
  • Qian Feng
  • Chao Li
  • Zhaoxia Xue
  • Jiashun Cao
Review Article


The accurate determination of widespread artificial sweeteners (ASs) and the information of their distributions in environments are of significance to investigate the environmental behaviors. This paper firstly reviews the typical analytic methodologies for ASs and the main influencing factors during the analytic processes. Solid-phase extraction (SPE) with LC-ESI-MS is currently the leading-edge method. However, the efficiency and accuracy for ASs analysis in environmental samples are also dependent on the SPE cartridges, buffers and pH, matrix effects, and sample stability. A basic procedure for ASs determination in different environmental samples is proposed. The current occurrences of ASs in environments are then evaluated. The ASs, especially the acesulfame and sucralose, are widely detected in various environmental medium. The concentrations of investigated ASs are generally in the order of wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) influent > WWTPs effluent > surface water > groundwater > drinking water; and atmosphere > soil. The ASs levels in the environment exhibit significant differences among different regions. Further analysis indicates that the phenomenon is highly correlated with the consumption patterns and the removal efficiency of WWTPs in a specific country.


Artificial sweeteners (ASs) Solid-phase extraction (SPE) LC-ESI-MS Concentrations Consumption patterns Removal efficiency 


Funding information

The work is financially supported by the “National Natural Science Foundation of China (No.51708171),” “Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, No: 2019B14314,” “China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (No.2018M630508),” “State Key Laboratory of Pollution Control and Resource Reuse Foundation, China (No. PCRRF17019),” and the “Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions (PAPD), China.”


  1. Adams CD, Scanlan PA, Secrist ND (1994) Oxidation and biodegradability enhancement of 1,4-dioxane using hydrogen peroxide and ozone. Environ Sci Technol 28(11):1812–1818Google Scholar
  2. Alidina M, Hoppe-Jones C, Yoon M, Hamadeh AF, Li D, Drewes JE (2014) The occurrence of emerging trace organic chemicals in wastewater effluents in Saudi Arabia. Sci Total Environ 478(8):152–162Google Scholar
  3. Amy-Sagers C, Reinhardt K, Larson DM (2017) Ecotoxicological assessments show sucralose and fluoxetine affect the aquatic plant, Lemna minor. Aquat Toxicol 185:76–85Google Scholar
  4. Anumol T, Vijayanandan A, Park M, Philip L, Snyder SA (2016) Occurrence and fate of emerging trace organic chemicals in wastewater plants in Chennai, India. Environ Int s 92–93:33–42Google Scholar
  5. Bennett D (2008) The Intense Sweetener World, Ehrenberg Centre for Research in Marketing, 2008. documents/HighIntensitySweeteners.pdf. Accessed 29 March 2019
  6. Berset JD, Ochsenbein N (2012) Stability considerations of aspartame in the direct analysis of artificial sweeteners in water samples using high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS/MS). Chemosphere 88(5):563–569Google Scholar
  7. Bian X, Tu P, Chi L, Gao B, Ru H, Lu K (2017) Saccharin induced liver inflammation in mice by altering the gut microbiota and its metabolic functions. Food Chem Toxicol 107(Pt B):530–539Google Scholar
  8. Brorströmlundén E, Svensson A, Viktor T, Woldegiorgis A, Remberger M, Kaj L, Dye C, Bjerke A, Schlabach M (2008) Measurements of sucralose in the Swedish screening program 2007. StängGoogle Scholar
  9. Brusick D, Grotz VL, Slesinski R, Kruger CL, Hayes AW (2010) The absence of genotoxicity of sucralose. Food Chem Toxicol 48(11):3067–3072Google Scholar
  10. Buerge IJ, Buser HR, Kahle M, Müller MD, Poiger T (2009) Ubiquitous occurrence of the artificial sweetener acesulfame in the aquatic environment: an ideal chemical marker of domestic wastewater in groundwater. Environ Sci Technol 43(12):4381–4385Google Scholar
  11. Buerge IJ, Keller M, Buser HR, Müller MD, Poiger T (2011) Saccharin and other artificial sweeteners in soils: estimated inputs from agriculture and households, degradation, and leaching to groundwater. Environ Sci Technol 45(2):615–621Google Scholar
  12. Calza P, Sakkas VA, Medana C, Vlachou AD, Bello FD, Albanis TA (2013) Chemometric assessment and investigation of mechanism involved in photo-Fenton and TiO2 photocatalytic degradation of the artificial sweetener sucralose in aqueous media. Appl Catal B Environ 129(2):71–79Google Scholar
  13. Castronovo S, Wick A, Scheurer M, Nödler K, Schulz M, Ternes TA (2016) Biodegradation of the artificial sweetener acesulfame in biological wastewater treatment and sandfilters. Water Res 110:342–353Google Scholar
  14. Chattopadhyay S, Raychaudhuri U, Chakraborty R (2014) Artificial sweeteners-a review. J Food Sci Technol 51(4):611–621Google Scholar
  15. Chen SW, He C, Li WC, Chen K, Ma L, Lu YJ, Xie HY (2012) Advances in research on environmental behavior and ecotoxicology of artificial sweeteners. J Shanghai Sec Polytech Univ (3):219–225Google Scholar
  16. Duarte LM, Paschoal D, Izumi CMS, Dolzan MD, Alves VR, Micke GA, Santos HFD, Oliveira MALD (2017) Simultaneous determination of aspartame, cyclamate, saccharin and acesulfame-K in powder tabletop sweeteners by FT-Raman spectroscopy associated with the multivariate calibration: PLS, iPLS and siPLS models were compared. Food Res Int 99:106–114Google Scholar
  17. Fang, Y., Lim, S.L., Ong, J., Hu. 2017. Recent advances in the use of chemical markers for tracing wastewater contamination in aquatic environment: a review. Water, 9(143), 143.Google Scholar
  18. Feng, B.T., Gan, Z.W., Hu, H.W., Sun H.W. 2013. Research progress on the environmental behaviour of artificial sweeteners.Environmental Chemistry, 32:1158-1166.Google Scholar
  19. Ferrer I, Thurman EM (2010) Analysis of sucralose and other sweeteners in water and beverage samples by liquid chromatography/time-of-flight mass spectrometry. J Chromatogr A 1217(25):4127–4134Google Scholar
  20. Findikli Z, Turkoglu S (2014) Determination of the effects of some artificial sweeteners on human peripheral lymphocytes using the comet assay. J Toxicol Env Heal 6(8):147–153Google Scholar
  21. Gagoferrero P, Gros M, Ahrens L, Wiberg K (2017) Impact of on-site, small and large scale wastewater treatment facilities on levels and fate of pharmaceuticals, personal care products, artificial sweeteners, pesticides, and perfluoroalkyl substances in recipient waters. Sci Total Environ 601-602:1289–1297Google Scholar
  22. Gan ZW, Sun HW, Feng BT (2012) Fate of artificial sweeteners in waste water and drinking water treatment processes. Res Environ Sci 25(11):1250–1256Google Scholar
  23. Gan Z, Sun H, Feng B, Wang R, Zhang Y (2013a) Occurrence of seven artificial sweeteners in the aquatic environment and precipitation of Tianjin, China. Water Res 47(14):4928–4937Google Scholar
  24. Gan Z, Sun H, Wang R, Feng B (2013b) A novel solid-phase extraction for the concentration of sweeteners in water and analysis by ion-pair liquid chromatography–triple quadrupole mass spectrometry. J Chromatogr A 1274(Supplement C):87–96Google Scholar
  25. Gan Z, Sun H, Yao Y, Zhao Y, Yan L, Zhang Y, Hu H, Wang R (2014) Distribution of artificial sweeteners in dust and soil in China and their seasonal variations in the environment of Tianjin. Sci Total Environs 488–489(1):168–175Google Scholar
  26. Ghosh M, Chowdhury P, Ray AK (2018) Study of solar photocatalytic degradation of acesulfame K to limit the outpouring of artificial sweeteners. Sep Purif Technol 207:51–57Google Scholar
  27. Ha MS, Ha SD, Choi SH, Bae DH (2013) Assessment of Korean consumer exposure to sodium saccharin, aspartame and stevioside. Food Addit Contam Part A Chem Anal Control Expo Risk Assess 30(7):1238–1247Google Scholar
  28. Houtman CJ (2010) Emerging contaminants in surface waters and their relevance for the production of drinking water in Europe. J Integr Environ Sci 7(4):271–295Google Scholar
  29. Hu R, Zhang L, Hu J (2017) Investigation of ozonation kinetics and transformation products of sucralose. Sci Total Environ 603:8–17Google Scholar
  30. Kokotou MG, Asimakopoulos AG, Thomaidis NS (2012) Artificial sweeteners as emerging pollutants in the environment: analytical methodologies and environmental impact. Anal Methods 4(10):3057–3070Google Scholar
  31. Kroger M, Meister K, Kava R (2006) Low-calorie sweeteners and other sugar substitutes: a review of the safety issues. Compr Rev Food Sci Food Saf 5(2):35–47Google Scholar
  32. Lange FT, Scheurer M, Brauch H-J (2012) Artificial sweeteners—a recently recognized class of emerging environmental contaminants: a review. Anal Bioanal Chem 403(9):2503–2518Google Scholar
  33. Li S, Ren Y, Fu Y, Gao X, Jiang C, Wu G, Ren H, Geng J (2018) Fate of artificial sweeteners through wastewater treatment plants and water treatment processes. Plos One 13(1):e0189867Google Scholar
  34. Lillicrap A, Langford K, Tollefsen KE (2011) Bioconcentration of the intense sweetener sucralose in a multitrophic battery of aquatic organisms. Environ Toxicol Chem 30(3):673–681Google Scholar
  35. Lin H, Wu J, Oturan N, Zhang H, Oturan MA (2015) Degradation of artificial sweetener saccharin in aqueous medium by electrochemically generated hydroxyl radicals. Environ Sci Pollut Res 23(5):1–12Google Scholar
  36. Listed N (1970) FDA extends ban on cyclamates. Science 169(3949):962–962Google Scholar
  37. Loos R, Gawlik BM, Boettcher K, Locoro G, Contini S, Bidoglio G (2009) Sucralose screening in European surface waters using a solid-phase extraction-liquid chromatography-triple quadrupole mass spectrometry method. J Chromatogr A 1216(7):1126–1131Google Scholar
  38. Loos R, Carvalho R, António DC, Comero S, Locoro G, Tavazzi S, Paracchini B, Ghiani M, Lettieri T, Blaha L (2013) EU-wide monitoring survey on emerging polar organic contaminants in wastewater treatment plant effluents. Water Res 47(17):6475–6487Google Scholar
  39. Ma L, Liu Y, Xu J, Sun H, Chen H, Yao Y, Zhang P, Shen F, Alder AC (2017) Mass loading of typical artificial sweeteners in a pig farm and their dissipation and uptake by plants in neighboring farmland. Sci Total Environ 605-606:735–744Google Scholar
  40. Mawhinney DB, Young RB, Vanderford BJ, Borch T, Snyder SA (2011) Artificial sweetener sucralose in U.S. drinking water systems. Environ Sci Technol 45(20):8716–8722Google Scholar
  41. Mckie MJ, Andrews SA, Andrews RC (2016) Conventional drinking water treatment and direct biofiltration for the removal of pharmaceuticals and artificial sweeteners: a pilot-scale approach. Sci Total Environ 544(3):10–17Google Scholar
  42. Mead RN, Morgan JB, Jr GBA, Kieber RJ, Kirk AM, Skrabal SA, Willey JD (2009) Occurrence of the artificial sweetener sucralose in coastal and marine waters of the United States. Mar Chem 116(1):13–17Google Scholar
  43. Minten J, AdolfssonErici M, Björlenius B, Alsberg T (2011) A method for the analysis of sucralose with electrospray LC/MS in recipient waters and in sewage effluent subjected to tertiary treatment technologies. Int J Environ Anal Chem 91(4):357–366Google Scholar
  44. Morlock GE, Schuele L, Grashorn S (2011) Development of a quantitative high-performance thin-layer chromatographic method for sucralose in sewage effluent, surface water, and drinking water. J Chromatogr A 1218(19):2745–2753Google Scholar
  45. Müller CE, Gerecke AC, Alder AC, Scheringer M, Hungerbühler K (2011) Identification of perfluoroalkyl acid sources in Swiss surface waters with the help of the artificial sweetener acesulfame. Environ Pollut 159(5):1419–1426Google Scholar
  46. Neset TS, Singer H, Longrée P, Bader HP, Scheidegger R, Wittmer A, Andersson JC (2010) Understanding consumption-related sucralose emissions - a conceptual approach combining substance-flow analysis with sampling analysis. Sci Total Environ 408(16):3261–3269Google Scholar
  47. Ngoc Han T, Jie G, Viet Tung N, Huiting C, Luhua Y, Ankur D, Lifeng Z, Karina Yew-Hoong G (2015) Sorption and biodegradation of artificial sweeteners in activated sludge processes. Bioresour Technol 197:329–338Google Scholar
  48. Oliveira VAD, Oliveira VMAD, Oliveira TWND, Silva CEDO, Medeiros SRA, Soares BM, Aguiar RPSD, Islam MT (2017) Evaluation of cytotoxic and mutagenic effects of two artificial sweeteners using eukaryotic test systems. Afr J Biotechnol 16(11):547–551Google Scholar
  49. Oppenheimer J, Eaton A, Badruzzaman M, Haghani AW, Jacangelo JG (2011) Occurrence and suitability of sucralose as an indicator compound of wastewater loading to surface waters in urbanized regions. Water Res 45(13):4019–4027Google Scholar
  50. Ordóñez EY, Quintana JB, Rodil R, Cela R (2012) Determination of artificial sweeteners in water samples by solid-phase extraction and liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry. J Chromatogr A 1256(18):197–205Google Scholar
  51. Ordonez EY, Quintana JB, Rodil R, Cela R (2013) Determination of artificial sweeteners in sewage sludge samples using pressurised liquid extraction and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. J Chromatogr A 1320:10–16Google Scholar
  52. Perkola N, Sainio P (2014) Quantification of four artificial sweeteners in Finnish surface waters with isotope-dilution mass spectrometry. Environ Pollut 184:391–396Google Scholar
  53. Praveena SM, Cheema MS, Guo HR (2019) Non-nutritive artificial sweeteners as an emerging contaminant in environment: a global review and risks perspectives. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 170:699–707Google Scholar
  54. Qi W, Singer H, Berg M, Müller B, Pernet-Coudrier B, Liu H, Qu J (2015) Elimination of polar micropollutants and anthropogenic markers by wastewater treatment in Beijing, China. Chemosphere 119:1054–1061Google Scholar
  55. Ren Y, Geng J, Li F, Ren H, Ding L, Xu K (2016) The oxidative stress in the liver of Carassius auratus exposed to acesulfame and its UV irradiance products. Sci Total Environ 571:755–762Google Scholar
  56. Robertson WD, Van Stempvoort DR, Spoelstra J, Brown SJ, Schiff SL (2016) Degradation of sucralose in groundwater and implications for age dating contaminated groundwater. Water Res 88(4):653–660Google Scholar
  57. Roy JW, Van Stempvoort DR, Bickerton G (2014) Artificial sweeteners as potential tracers of municipal landfill leachate. Environ Pollut 184:89–93Google Scholar
  58. Sang Z, Jiang Y, Tsoi YK, Leung KS (2014) Evaluating the environmental impact of artificial sweeteners: a study of their distributions, photodegradation and toxicities. Water Res 52(4):260–274Google Scholar
  59. Saucedo-Vence K, Elizalde-Velázquez A, Dublán-García O, Galar-Martínez M, Islas-Flores H, Sanjuan-Reyes N, García-Medina S, Hernández-Navarro MD, Gómez-Oliván LM (2017) Toxicological hazard induced by sucralose to environmentally relevant concentrations in common carp ( Cyprinus carpio ). Sci Total Environ 575:347–357Google Scholar
  60. Scheurer M, Brauch HJ, Lange FT (2009) Analysis and occurrence of seven artificial sweeteners in German waste water and surface water and in soil aquifer treatment (SAT). Anal Bioanal Chem 394(6):1585–1594Google Scholar
  61. Scheurer M, Storck FR, Brauch HJ, Lange FT (2010) Performance of conventional multi-barrier drinking water treatment plants for the removal of four artificial sweeteners. Water Res 44(12):3573–3584Google Scholar
  62. Scheurer M, Storck FR, Graf C, Brauch HJ, Ruck W, Lev O, Lange FT (2011) Correlation of six anthropogenic markers in wastewater, surface water, bank filtrate, and soil aquifer treatment. J Environ Monit Jem 13(4):966–973Google Scholar
  63. Sharma VK, Sohn M, Anquandah GA, Nesnas N (2012) Kinetics of the oxidation of sucralose and related carbohydrates by ferrate(VI). Chemosphere 87(6):644–648Google Scholar
  64. Soh L, Connors KA, Brooks BW, Zimmerman J (2011) Fate of sucralose through environmental and water treatment processes and impact on plant indicator species. Environ Sci Technol 45(4):1363–1369Google Scholar
  65. Stojkovic M, Mai TD, Hauser PC (2013) Determination of artificial sweeteners by capillary electrophoresis with contactless conductivity detection optimized by hydrodynamic pumping. Anal Chim Acta 787(13):254–259Google Scholar
  66. Storck FR, Skark C, Remmler F, Brauch HJ (2016) Environmental fate and behavior of acesulfame in laboratory experiments. Water Sci Technol 74(12):2832–2842Google Scholar
  67. Subedi B, Kannan K (2014) Fate of artificial sweeteners in wastewater treatment plants in New York State, U.S.A. Environ Sci Technol 48(23):13668–13674Google Scholar
  68. Subedi B, Lee S, Moon HB, Kannan K (2014) Emission of artificial sweeteners, select pharmaceuticals, and personal care products through sewage sludge from wastewater treatment plants in Korea. Environ Int 68:33–40Google Scholar
  69. Subedi B, Balakrishna K, Sinha RK, Yamashita N, Balasubramanian VG, Kannan K (2015) Mass loading and removal of pharmaceuticals and personal care products, including psychoactive and illicit drugs and artificial sweeteners, in five sewage treatment plants in India. J Environ Chem Eng 3(4):2882–2891Google Scholar
  70. Torres CI, Ramakrishna S, Chiu CA, Nelson KG, Westerhoff P, Krajmalnik-Brown R (2011) Fate of sucralose during wastewater treatment. Environ Eng Sci 28(5):325–331Google Scholar
  71. Tran NH, Hu J, Ong SL (2013) Simultaneous determination of PPCPs, EDCs, and artificial sweeteners in environmental water samples using a single-step SPE coupled with HPLC-MS/MS and isotope dilution. Talanta 113(17):82–92Google Scholar
  72. Tran NH, Hu J, Li J, Ong SL (2014) Suitability of artificial sweeteners as indicators of raw wastewater contamination in surface water and groundwater. Water Res 48:443–456Google Scholar
  73. Tran NH, Gan J, Nguyen VT, Chen H, You L, Duarah A, Zhang L, Gin KY-H (2015) Sorption and biodegradation of artificial sweeteners in activated sludge processes. Bioresour Technol 197(Supplement C:329–338Google Scholar
  74. Tripathi M, Khanna SK, Das M (2006) Usage of saccharin in food products and its intake by the population of Lucknow, India. Food Addit Contam 23(12):1265–1275Google Scholar
  75. Van Stempvoort DR, Roy JW, Brown SJ, Bickerton G (2011) Artificial sweeteners as potential tracers in groundwater in urban environments. J Hydrol 401(1):126–133Google Scholar
  76. Van Stempvoort DR, Robertson WD, Brown SJ (2011a) Artificial sweeteners in a large septic plume. Ground Water Monit Remidiat 31(4):95–102Google Scholar
  77. Viberg H, Fredriksson A (2011) Neonatal exposure to sucralose does not alter biochemical markers of neuronal development or adult behavior. Nutrition 27(1):81–85Google Scholar
  78. Wiklund A-KE, Breitholtz M, Bengtsson B-E, Adolfsson-Erici M (2012) Sucralose – an ecotoxicological challenger? Chemosphere 86(1):50–55Google Scholar
  79. Xu WB, Gan ZW (2016) Pollution of the artificial sweetener pollution and its environmental behavior. Sci Technol Sichuan Agr (9):65–67Google Scholar
  80. Yang Q (2010) Gain weight by “going diet?” Artificial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings: Neuroscience 2010. Yale J Biol Med 83(2):101–108Google Scholar
  81. Yang YY, Liu WR, Liu YS, Zhao JL, Zhang QQ, Zhang M, Zhang JN, Jiang YX, Zhang LJ, Ying GG (2017) Suitability of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) and artificial sweeteners (ASs) as wastewater indicators in the Pearl River Delta, South China. Sci Total Environ 590:611–619Google Scholar
  82. Zygler A, Wasik A, Namieśnik J (2010) Retention behaviour of some high-intensity sweeteners on different SPE sorbents. Talanta 82(5):1742–1748Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Integrated Regulation and Resource Development on Shallow Lakes, Ministry of EducationHohai UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.College of EnvironmentHohai UniversityNanjingChina
  3. 3.Jiangsu Provincial Academy of Environmental ScienceNanjingChina

Personalised recommendations