Tests found the potentially toxic chemical 1,4-dioxane in 65 of 80 household products, including trace amounts in some baby products, shampoos, detergents and body washes, according to a report released Tuesday.
The products with the highest levels include Victoria Secret’s shower gels, Tide Original laundry detergent and Dreft Stage 1/Newborn baby laundry detergent, according to the test commissioned by Citizens Campaign for the Environment, a Farmingdale-based group that is pushing a statewide ban of 1,4-dioxane in household products.
The group said the consumer products can be harmful to Long Island's groundwater, and a concern if absorbed through the skin at higher levels. Manufacturers, meanwhile, said their products are safe to use and called the report a distraction from industrial pollutants.
1,4-dioxane, designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a likely carcinogen after a lifetime of exposure to drinking water, has been found in dozens of Long Island drinking water wells. Water providers have estimated it will cost $840 million to install treatment systems.
While 1,4-dioxane in the water is primarily associated with industrial sites, because it was used in solvents like those used to clean machine parts, the chemical is also found in household products, produced as a byproduct of the manufacturing process.
“It’s a critical concern for contaminating our groundwater and drinking water,” said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, who added it also could be a concern for skin exposure. "We really were shocked at some of these results."
A study in July by the group found 23 of 30 products contained 1,4-dioxane, and the group used additional funding from the Long Island Community Foundation to test 50 more products.
Manufacturers said their products are safe to use and called the study a “distraction” from the real issue with 1,4-dioxane contamination in groundwater, which has been found at industrial sites on Long Island.
“Consumers can feel confident in the safety of their favorite and highly trusted household products," James Darr, manager of state government relations and public policy for the Household & Commercial Products Association, said in a statement. "The evidence clearly shows that they are not the source of Long Island’s decadeslong water contamination issues.”
Brian Sansoni, spokesman for the American Cleaning Institute, reiterated that 1,4-dioxane is not deliberately added to consumer products.
"Given the extraordinarily low levels of 1,4-dioxane that might remain at trace quantities in certain materials and products, the report’s misleading claims are confusing in their implication of potential risks to consumers," he said in a statement.
He said while many of the levels fall within U.S. and global guidelines for products, companies "control and minimize the presence of 1,4 dioxane in their products and raw materials and routinely take necessary steps to reduce its presence to the lowest levels possible, so consumers can continue to safely use their products."
No federal or state standard exists for the amount of 1,4-dioxane allowed in consumer products. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's website cites a European Commission report that concluded products are considered safe for consumers at 10,000 parts per billion or below. Six products tested had levels at or above 10,000 parts per billion, with the highest coming in at 17,000 parts per billion.
Lifelong exposure to 0.35 parts per billion of 1,4-dioxane in drinking water represents a 1-in-a-million cancer risk, according to the EPA. In December, a panel of state health and environmental officials, water providers and academics recommended a drinking water standard of nearly three times that — 1 part per billion for 1,4-dioxane.
Citizens Campaign for the Environment tested products bought at Long Island stores and found the chemical in both high-end products and less-expensive alternatives, and products for men and women. Esposito said that on the positive side, many of the products marketed as environmentally friendly had no detectable levels of 1,4-dioxane.
"A lot of these green products really are green," she said.
She said the group originally tested the household products after seeing 1,4-dioxane contamination in drinking water supplies in areas without a history of industrial use, such as Montauk, Smithtown and Huntington.
The products were tested by ALS Laboratory in Rochester, New York, which is certified by the state Department of Health and can detect down to 25 parts per billion.
The products with the highest levels of 1,4-dioxane were Victoria's Secret Bombshell Body Wash, Victoria's Secret Love Body Wash, Tide Original Detergent, Ivory Snow 2X Ultra Detergent, Dreft Stage1/Newborn Detergent, Gain Original Detergent, Tide Simply + Oxi Detergent, The Home Store Lemon Scented Dish Soap, Baby Magic Hair and Body Wash, Up & Up (Target) Free + Clear Dish Soap, Persil Original Detergent, and Pantene Pro-V Nature Fusion Shampoo.
Environmentalists and water providers are pushing to ban 1,4-dioxane from products as state health officials have said they plan to set an enforceable drinking standard for 1,4-dioxane. Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) and Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) have sponsored bills to ban the products.
Removing 1,4-dioxane from drinking water is costly and expensive. Only one system in New York — at a Suffolk County Water Authority well — has been approved for use in a drinking water system. There's no way for households to remove the chemical on their own, experts said.
Baby Products 1,4-dioxane (parts per billion)
Dreft (Stage 1/Newborn): 10,000
Baby Magic Hair and Body Wash (Original Baby Scent): 7,600
Sesame Street Baby Wash (Dollar Tree): 2,100
Angel of Mine Baby Bath (Dollar Tree): 1,400
Mustela Gentle Cleansing Gel: 900
Johnson’s Baby Shampoo: 870
Disney Frozen Bubble Bath: 810
Original Bubble Mr. Bubble: 590
Aveeno Baby Gentle Wash and Shampoo: Not detected
Babyganics Bubble Bath: Not detected
The Honest Company Shampoo and Body Wash: Not detected
Body Washes and Gels
Victoria’s Secret (Bombshell Fragrance Wash): 17,000
Victoria’s Secret (Love Fragrance Wash): 16,000
Olay Moisture Ribbons Plus Body Wash (Shea + Lavender Oil): 3,500
Dr. Teal’s Pink Himalayan Foaming Bath: 3,400
Inspire Fresh Water Moisturizing Body Wash (Dollar Tree): 2,600
Neutrogena Rainbath Shower and Bath Gel: 2,200
Soft Whisper by Power Stick (Pomegranate Lemon Verbena) (Dollar Tree): 2,200
Suave Essentials Body Wash (Wild Cherry Blossom): 2,000
St. Ives Oatmeal and Shea Butter: 2,000
Caress Daily Silk Body Wash: 1,700
Philosophy Love Body Wash: 1,500
Modesa Coconut Ginger Body Wash (Family Dollar): 1,400
Smartly Meadow Scented Body Wash (Target Brand): 1,200
Nivea Care and Hibiscus Body Wash: 1,000
Bath and Body Works Shower Gel (Sonoma Weekend Escape): 630
Burt’s Bees Lavender Honey Body Wash: Not detected
Dove Go Fresh Body Wash (Cucumber and Green Tea): Not detected
Dr. Bronner’s Hemp Peppermint Soap: Not detected
Method Body Wash (with Avocado Extract): Not detected
The Home Store Lemon Scented (Dollar Tree): 7,700
Up & Up Free and Clear (Target Brand): 6,400
Palmolive Raspberry Coconut: 2,800
Soft Soap Fresh Breeze: 1,900
Dial Coconut Water and Mango: 990
RJ Walkins (Aloe and Green Tea): 340
Tide Original: 14,000
2X Ultra Ivory Snow (Gentle Care): 11,000
Gain Original: 10,000
Tide Simply plus Oxi (Refreshing Breeze): 8,300
Persil Original (Family Dollar): 6,100
Homeline Original (Family Dollar): 5,400
All with Stain Lifters (Fresh Rain): 5,200
Up & Up Fresh Linen (Target Brand): 4,300
Arm and Hammer (Clean Burst, 2x Concentrated): 2,800
LA’s Totally Awesome (Dollar Tree): 2,800
Purex plus Oxy Stain Removers (Fresh Morning Burst): 2,000
Xtra (Tropical Passion): 890
Method (Ginger Mango): 220
Mrs. Meyer’s (Lavender Scent): Not detected
Nature’s Promise Free and Clear: Not detected
Seventh Generation (Free and Clear): Not detected
Suavitel (Field Flowers): Not detected
Ultra Downy April Fresh (Fabric Softener): Not detected
Selsun Blue Dandruff Shampoo: 3,100
Irish Springs Shower Gel: 3,000
Old Spice Swagger Shower Gel/Shampoo: 2,500
Axe Phoenix Shower Gel/Shampoo: 2,400
Suave Sport Body Wash: 2,000
Inspire Premium Surge Body Wash (Dollar Tree): 1,400
Power Stick Cool Blast Shower Gel/Shampoo (Dollar Tree): 800
Pantene Pro-V Nature Fusion: 5,500
Herbal Essences Platinum: 4,200
VO5 Passion Fruit Smoothie: 3,400
Love Beauty and Planet Argan Oil and Lavender: 2,900
John Frieda Brilliant Brunette: 2,400
OGX Lavender Platinum: 2,400
Dove Nutritive Solutions (Coconut and Hydration): 2,200
Head and Shoulders Classic Clean: 1,700
Tresemme Moisture Rich with Vitamin E: 1,500
L’Oreal Elvive Total Repair: 1,400
Suave Professionals Moroccan Infusion (Color Care): 1,400
White Rain Ocean Mist (Dollar Tree): 1,100
Silkience Vitamin B5 and Avocado Oil (Dollar Tree): 980
Garnier Fructis with Active Fruit Protein: 400
Aveeno Active Minerals Pure Renewal: Not detected
Cantu Shea Butter for Natural Hair: Not detected
Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus Curl & Shine: Not detected
SOURCE: Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Farmingdale