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EPA proposes taking saccharin off hazardous waste list

April 21, 2010 |  4:03 pm

SaccharinThe Environmental Protection Agency plans to remove the artificial sweetener saccharin from its list of "hazardous wastes, hazardous constituents and hazardous substances," the agency announced Wednesday. It's been on the list since the 1980s.

The reason for the removal: saccharin is no longer considered a hazard to human health. This reassessment of saccharin and its salts was done in the late 1990s -- more than 10 years ago -- by the National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, who concluded these chemicals aren't potential human carcinogens.

Here's a National Toxicology Program website with a long list of saccharin toxicology studies in humans, animals or cells in dishes. 

And here is the change to saccharin's status that the EPA proposes to make. It follows from a petition made by the Calorie Control Council, a trade group that represents the "low-calorie and reduced-fat food and beverage industry."

There's a 60-day public-comment period.

The proposal surely won't be welcome by those who continue to believe that saccharin is dangerous in spite of the many studies that haven't found this to be so. In that regard, here's an interesting piece of trivia: Saccharin is still banned in Canada, whereas cyclamate, another type of artificial sweetener, is not. Here,the opposite is true. (Both countries have been looking into lifting the prohibitions.)

Pretty much every artificial sweetener has come under fire as dangerous at one time or another: aspartame, cyclamate, saccharin, sucralose, you name it. Here's a 2007 L.A. Times article by freelance writer Emily Sohn, "With faux sugars, real suspicion," that explored some of the science.

-- Rosie Mestel

Photo credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times