1,4-Dioxane, also known as dioxane, is an emerging contaminant of concern found in Long Island's groundwater and drinking water. According to an EPA study, Nassau and Suffolk water suppliers have reported some of the highest levels of dioxane contamination in the nation.
1,4-Dioxane is considered a probable carcinogen, and the U.S. EPA has determined that 1,4-dioxane represents a cancer risk in drinking water at levels of 0.35 µg/L or more. In the absence of an established federal drinking water standard, the default allowable level in drinking water in NY is 50.0 µg/L, which is grossly inadequate to protect public health.
With no federal guideline in place, and in the face of clear evidence that 1,4-dioxane is a serious threat to drinking water for all Long Islanders, we must establish a health-based drinking water standard in NY! Email Governor Cuomo and the Commissioner of the NYS DOH, and urge them to establish a health-based drinking water standard for this contaminant, based on the EPA's cancer risk guideline of 0.35µg/L.
What is 1,4-dioxane? 1,4-Dioxane is a hidden carcinogen lurking in everyday products. It occurs as byproduct of a manufacturing process called "ethoxylation" and is found in many common household products. Approximately 46% of personal care products, including detergents, dishwashing soaps, shampoos, cosmetics, deodorants, and body lotions, contain dioxane. Dioxane can even be found in baby wipes and baby shampoos. It can also be found in pesticides, packaging materials, paints, solvents, and varnishes. Because dioxane is a manufacturing byproduct, it is not listed on product labels, making it difficult for consumers to make safe, informed choices. While manufacturers can remove dioxane from products simply and cheaply, and the FDA actually recommends that manufacturers do so, many companies opt not to take that extra step.
One thing that every Long Islander can do is avoid products containing dioxane. While dioxane itself is not listed on the label, it occurs as a byproduct of processing certain ingredients, and those ingredients are often listed. Two of the most common at-risk ingredients are 'sodium laureth sulfate' and 'potassium laureth phosphate'. Other commonly used ingredients associated with 1,4-dioxane contamination include PEG, polyethylene, polyethylene glycol, polyoxyehtylene, myreth, oleth, laureth, and ceteareth. Other than these, look for any ingredients with "-eth" or "-oxynol" in their names. While there are safe, dioxane-free alternatives, the terms "natural" or "green" are simply marketing terms and do not mean that products do not contain dioxane. The only way to be sure is to check the ingredients.
While avoiding products in our personal lives is a good first step, we need New York State to act now to prevent further exposure to dioxane through our drinking water. Right now, there is no federal health-based drinking water standard for dioxane, even though the EPA considers ingestion from drinking water to be the most dangerous route of exposure for dioxane. As technology develops to remove dioxane from drinking water, we need Governor Cuomo and the NYS Department of Health to determine what level of dioxane—if any—is safe for drinking water and ensure that our drinking water is properly treated to protect public health.
Thank you for taking action. Together we make a difference!
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