If you think sugar is bad for you, just take a peek at what fake sugar — those artificial sweeteners we love to think won’t make us fat — does to your body. Splenda, the sugar substitute in those darling yellow packets, is made of sucralose, an additive that has been linked to everything from minor genetic damage in mouse cells to seizures and diabetes in humans.
And that’s not even the scariest part. If you can justify away all the warnings and scientific links to death and disease, there’s still another reason to avoid sucralose: it’s probably killing the planet.
As Take Part blogger Linda Sharps recently wrote, “the fact that we can’t digest or absorb 90 percent of the chemical compound of sucralose means that it mostly goes through our bodies and into sewage treatment systems.” And as we all know (but try not to think about), wastewater eventually makes its way into surface and ground water.
Just like in the body, sucralose’s unique chemical properties prevent it from being broken down in the conventional wastewater treatment process. This means that it’s just hanging out in our water supply, building up year after year, doing… who knows what to the environment.
Typically, a foreign substance in the water supply is bad news for humans, wildlife and the planet. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at something else that’s leaching into the water supply at alarming rates: pesticides. According to U.S. Geological Survey researchers, trace amounts of agricultural chemicals are making their way over long distances, infiltrating national parks and other public lands where wildlife are supposed to be relatively safe from the outside world. This contamination is having a marked negative effect on amphibian populations. In case you didn’t know, frogs are considered a bioindicator species – a canary in the coal mine. If frogs start dying off, it’s an indication that something has gone terribly wrong in the ecosystem.
According to Sharps, “The Environmental Protection Agency has gone so far as to identify sucralose as a ‘contaminant of emerging concern,’ but the long-term effects may not be known until it’s too late.”
I’m no scientist, but I think it’s safe to say that dumping a substance that causes seizures and diabetes into the water supply isn’t going to bode well, for animals, plants or us.
So maybe if you can’t break your Splenda habit to save your own health, you’ll do it to save the planet?
Image via Avrene