Groundwater containing Artificial sweeteners indicate contamination from septic systems


The researchers identified contamination of ground water in rural areas containing artificial sweeteners caused by local septic system.

Researchers from the University of Waterloo found evidence in contamination and began testing the ground water in Nottawasaga River Watershed and detected four artificial sweeteners in ground water influenced by waste water from septic system in local area.

Artificial Sweeteners

The high concentrations of artificial sweeteners unchanged in water. Also most water treatment plants couldn’t clean the human waste water accurately. Other substance E. coli, viruses, pharmaceuticals, personal care products and increased levels of nitrate and ammonium.

“Although the four artificial sweeteners measured all approved for human consumption by Health Canada. The other septic contaminants also present in the water pose a health risk,” said John Spoelstra, first author on the study and an adjunct professor in earth and environmental sciences at Waterloo. “As for groundwater entering rivers and lakes, the effect of artificial sweeteners on most aquatic organisms is unknown.”

32 per cent of samples positive for sweetener

The team tested groundwater on banks of the Nottawasaga River. They found 32 per cent of samples positive for sweeteners. In rural areas, homes doesn’t have connectivity to municipal sewer system. The system perform primary treatment in removing solids. Before the effluent discharged to septic drain field further treatment occurs.

The same group revealed by previous studies that presence of artificial sweeteners in the Grand River as well as in treated drinking water sourced from the river.

“We were not really surprised by the most recent results given what we’ve found in past studies,” said Spoelstra, also a Research Scientist with Environment and Climate Change Canada. “Septic systems are designed to discharge effluent to groundwater as part of the wastewater treatment process. Therefore, contamination of the shallow groundwater is a common problem when it comes to septic systems.”