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Environ Pollut. 2014 Jan;184:89-93. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2013.08.021. Epub 2013 Sep 14.

Artificial sweeteners as potential tracers of municipal landfill leachate.

Author information

1
Water Science and Technology Directorate, Environment Canada, Burlington, Ontario, Canada L7R 4A6. Electronic address: jim.roy@ec.gc.ca.

Abstract

Artificial sweeteners are gaining acceptance as tracers of human wastewater in the environment. The 3 artificial sweeteners analyzed in this study were detected in leachate or leachate-impacted groundwater at levels comparable to those of untreated wastewater at 14 of 15 municipal landfill sites tested, including several closed for >50 years. Saccharin was the dominant sweetener in old (pre-1990) landfills, while newer landfills were dominated by saccharin and acesulfame (introduced 2 decades ago; dominant in wastewater). Cyclamate was also detected, but less frequently. A case study at one site illustrates the use of artificial sweeteners to identify a landfill-impacted groundwater plume discharging to a stream. The study results suggest that artificial sweeteners can be useful tracers for current and legacy landfill contamination, with relative abundances of the sweeteners potentially providing diagnostic ability to distinguish different landfills or landfill cells, including crude age-dating, and to distinguish landfill and wastewater sources.

KEYWORDS:

Artificial sweeteners; Environmental tracers; Groundwater; Landfill leachate; Water quality

PMID:
24041482
DOI:
10.1016/j.envpol.2013.08.021
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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