Yale researchers are looking for 500 volunteers willing to have...

Yale researchers are looking for 500 volunteers willing to have their blood and tap water tested. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

Yale researchers are looking for 500 Long Islanders to participate in a study that will help them better understand exposure to the chemical 1,4-dioxane, a likely carcinogen found in both drinking water and common household products.

Participants will have their blood as well as their home's tap water tested to help determine if there is any correlation between levels of 1,4-dioxane found in water and a person’s body, researchers said. The study is part of an effort to understand links between exposure to 1,4-dioxane and potential health risks.

The study, being conducted by the Yale Superfund Research Center with a grant from the National Institutes of Health, will start with a small pilot project this summer.

The chemical — found in drinking water on Long Island — has been used as a stabilizer in solvents such as paint strippers and waxes. It is also a byproduct in the manufacture of shampoos, shower gels and other consumer goods and in laboratory animal tests has been linked to cancers as well as liver and kidney damage.

“Who has one of the highest exposures in the nation? Long Island. And that’s where this is focused on,” Vasilis Vasiliou, director of the Yale Superfund Research Center, said Monday during a virtual conference to discuss the study and seek participants.

“We really just don’t have a lot of information or data on this chemical,” said Nicole Deziel, associate professor at the Yale School of Public Health and a graduate of Longwood High School in Middle Island who is leading the study. “Exposures and health impacts are really poorly understood and we really hope to provide more information to better understand this chemical so we can reduce people’s exposures and risk.”

The study is part of a larger initiative at the Yale Superfund Research Center that includes examining how 1,4-dioxane can cause cancer, monitoring water for the chemical in real time and developing affordable methods for purifying water, said Vasiliou. The center this fall received a $7.3 million grant over five years from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences for the research.

Deziel said it has not been determined yet when the study finding would be released.

In recent years, New York State has enacted strict limits on 1,4-dioxane in drinking water and household products. Drinking water must not contain more than 1 part per billion of the chemical while personal care and household cleaning products were required not to exceed 2 parts per million by the end of 2022. That limit drops to 1 ppm by the end of this year.

Newsday reported Monday that the state has granted temporary waivers to manufacturers allowing more than 1,400 products over the state limit to remain on store shelves. Waivers are permitted under the state’s law, which gives manufacturers time to comply with the limits.

The Long Island-based Citizens Campaign for the Environment, which advocated for limits of the chemical, is working with researchers to help them find volunteer participants.

“This is the first of its kind study we believe anywhere in the nation and specific to Long Island,” said Adrienne Esposito, executive director and co-founder of the CCE.

People interested in more information about the study can go to the CCE website to sign up.

Deziel said growing up on Long Island sparked her interest in environmental health.

“When I was growing up in the '80s and '90s there were a lot of concerns about cancer clusters,” she said, noting people wondered if pesticides from farms or power lines could be the cause. “I was really frustrated by the lack of information and uncertainty about these exposures and that really motivated me to get my degree in this area and become an environmental epidemiologist.”

Researchers are hoping to get a cross section of Long Islanders, including residents connected to municipal water systems and those who rely on well water.

Participants take a 90-minute survey at home with researchers, who will take a sample of their blood and tap water. In return they will receive a $20 gift card and all test results.

“The advantage of collecting these bio specimens is that it gives us a picture of what actually got into your body,” said Deziel. “If we test the water, that’s giving us insight into what’s in your drinking water, but blood would also capture what's in the consumer products and other sources, maybe other exposures you’re getting at work or school.”

Yale researchers are looking for 500 Long Islanders to participate in a study that will help them better understand exposure to the chemical 1,4-dioxane, a likely carcinogen found in both drinking water and common household products.

Participants will have their blood as well as their home's tap water tested to help determine if there is any correlation between levels of 1,4-dioxane found in water and a person’s body, researchers said. The study is part of an effort to understand links between exposure to 1,4-dioxane and potential health risks.

The study, being conducted by the Yale Superfund Research Center with a grant from the National Institutes of Health, will start with a small pilot project this summer.

The chemical — found in drinking water on Long Island — has been used as a stabilizer in solvents such as paint strippers and waxes. It is also a byproduct in the manufacture of shampoos, shower gels and other consumer goods and in laboratory animal tests has been linked to cancers as well as liver and kidney damage.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Researchers are seeking 500 Long Islanders to participate in a study focused on exposure to 1,4-dioxane, a likely carcinogen found in common household products.
  • Participants take a survey, give a blood sample and tap water which will be examined. 
  • The Yale Superfund Research Center is conducting the study as part of a larger effort to understand exposure to 1,4-dioxane and potential risks.

“Who has one of the highest exposures in the nation? Long Island. And that’s where this is focused on,” Vasilis Vasiliou, director of the Yale Superfund Research Center, said Monday during a virtual conference to discuss the study and seek participants.

“We really just don’t have a lot of information or data on this chemical,” said Nicole Deziel, associate professor at the Yale School of Public Health and a graduate of Longwood High School in Middle Island who is leading the study. “Exposures and health impacts are really poorly understood and we really hope to provide more information to better understand this chemical so we can reduce people’s exposures and risk.”

The study is part of a larger initiative at the Yale Superfund Research Center that includes examining how 1,4-dioxane can cause cancer, monitoring water for the chemical in real time and developing affordable methods for purifying water, said Vasiliou. The center this fall received a $7.3 million grant over five years from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences for the research.

Deziel said it has not been determined yet when the study finding would be released.

In recent years, New York State has enacted strict limits on 1,4-dioxane in drinking water and household products. Drinking water must not contain more than 1 part per billion of the chemical while personal care and household cleaning products were required not to exceed 2 parts per million by the end of 2022. That limit drops to 1 ppm by the end of this year.

Newsday reported Monday that the state has granted temporary waivers to manufacturers allowing more than 1,400 products over the state limit to remain on store shelves. Waivers are permitted under the state’s law, which gives manufacturers time to comply with the limits.

The Long Island-based Citizens Campaign for the Environment, which advocated for limits of the chemical, is working with researchers to help them find volunteer participants.

“This is the first of its kind study we believe anywhere in the nation and specific to Long Island,” said Adrienne Esposito, executive director and co-founder of the CCE.

People interested in more information about the study can go to the CCE website to sign up.

Deziel said growing up on Long Island sparked her interest in environmental health.

“When I was growing up in the '80s and '90s there were a lot of concerns about cancer clusters,” she said, noting people wondered if pesticides from farms or power lines could be the cause. “I was really frustrated by the lack of information and uncertainty about these exposures and that really motivated me to get my degree in this area and become an environmental epidemiologist.”

Researchers are hoping to get a cross section of Long Islanders, including residents connected to municipal water systems and those who rely on well water.

Participants take a 90-minute survey at home with researchers, who will take a sample of their blood and tap water. In return they will receive a $20 gift card and all test results.

“The advantage of collecting these bio specimens is that it gives us a picture of what actually got into your body,” said Deziel. “If we test the water, that’s giving us insight into what’s in your drinking water, but blood would also capture what's in the consumer products and other sources, maybe other exposures you’re getting at work or school.”

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