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Source: Newsday

Schumer asks FDA to mandate removal of contaminant 1,4-dioxane

BY EMILY C. DOOLEY

Posted: April 13, 2017
Originally Published: April 13, 2017

Sen. Chuck Schumer on Thursday called for a U.S. Food and Drug Administration requirement that manufacturers remove the probable carcinogen 1,4-dioxane from such consumer products as shampoos and lotions.

Schumer (D-N.Y.) plans to file a legislative petition with the FDA, his office said.

“It’s time to drain 1,4-dioxane from everyday products,” Schumer said Thursday. “When it’s used in your bathtub, it can seep into the aquifer.”

Citizens Campaign for the Environment executive director Adrienne Esposito said there were two ways the chemical was getting into the water supply — from legacy manufacturing contamination and consumer cleaning products.

“This is exactly what needs to happen,” she said about the petition, which is also signed by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.


Long Island’s nearly 3 million residents rely on a complex system of underground aquifers for their drinking water. Water from precipitation seeps through the region’s sandy soil to recharge those aquifers. But contaminants, such as 1,4-dioxane, can also enter the water supply.

There is no permitted method approved in New York to remove the probable carcinogen, but the Suffolk County Water Authority is set to launch a pilot treatment system this month.

The chemical is used as a solvent for resins, oils and waxes, but it can be a byproduct formed during the manufacturing process of cosmetics and personal care products. Frequently, it is not listed on ingredient labels.

“It’s not identified on the list of ingredients,” Schumer said. “Even the most attentive of consumers and families can’t identify it. Consumers can’t identify it and most importantly it ends up in our water supply.”

The FDA has been monitoring 1,4-dioxane levels in cosmetics since the 1970s and has measured declines in the presence of the chemical.

The agency has no limit on the concentration allowed, but it has alerted manufacturers to health hazards and notified them about a process known as vacuum stripping that can remove the contaminant, according to the agency’s website.

Schumer’s office said vacuum stripping is a cost-effective way to protect public health.

The issue of 1,4-dioxane came to light during a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency program that requires all large suppliers and a sampling of smaller ones to test for up to 30 unregulated contaminants every five years.

That list included 1,4-dioxane. Sample results released last year showed that 71 percent of water suppliers tested on Long Island detected levels of the chemical that could pose a 1-in-a-million cancer risk after prolonged exposure.

Nationwide, only 6.9 percent of water suppliers tested reported concentrations with the same estimated cancer risk.

Removing 1,4-dioxane from personal care products that are used and washed down the drain could reduce concentrations in the water supply, Schumer’s office said.