The amount of the toxic chemical 1,4-dioxane has decreased in some household products. NewsdayTV's Steve Langford reports. Credit: Newsday/Howard Schnapp; File Footage

Tests show five common laundry detergents that previously had high levels of the chemical 1,4-dioxane now meet the state's new limit that went into effect at the start of the year, as regulators considered Tuesday how to enforce the standard in household products.

Deemed a likely human carcinogen by federal agencies, 1,4-dioxane is the byproduct of the manufacturing process and commonly found in household cleaning and personal care products such as shampoo, body wash and laundry detergent.

Samples of Tide Original, Persil, Tide Simply Oxi, Gain Original and Dreft Stage 1 Newborn analyzed last month had less than 1 part per million of 1,4-dioxane, according to Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

When the group tested these same products in 2019 for 1,4-dioxane, the results ranged from 6.1 ppm to 14 ppm.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • New tests show five common laundry detergents have lowered their levels of 1,4-dioxane, a likely human carcinogen commonly found in household cleaning and personal care products.
  • Starting this year, these products must have 1 part per million or less of the chemical if they are sold in New York State.
  • State officials are still determining regulations to implement and enforce the strict limitations on 1,4-dioxane.

“The law is working,” she said during a press conference at the group’s Farmingdale office. “This is very good news for the public and our drinking water.”

P&G Fabric Care, the company that manufactures products including Tide and Gain, said it's committed to complying with state requirements, adding it lowered the concentration of 1,4-dioxane in products shipped by the end of 2022.

“We completed our reformulation work and all product being shipped in North America is compliant with the requirements of the NY 1,4-dioxane statute,” spokeswoman Elizabeth Kinney said in a statement.

The restrictions, approved by state lawmakers in 2019, were phased in over time. A 10 ppm limit for cosmetics and a 2 ppm threshold for personal care and household cleaning products went into effect at the end of 2022. At the end of 2023, the 2 ppm limit dropped to 1 ppm.

Advocates say the limits will protect people who use the products, as well as drinking water. The chemical has been found in groundwater across Long Island, sparking the creation by the state of a drinking water maximum contaminant level of 1 ppm in 2020.

Last year, Newsday reported the state had given out over 1,400 temporary waivers to companies whose products exceeded the 1,4-dioxane limits. In some cases, those soaps and cleaners had more than 10 times the limit, which Esposito called “staggering, alarming and shocking.” Those waivers expired at the end of 2023.

As of Tuesday, the state Department of Environmental Conservation database showed 26 current waivers that expire at the end of 2024. All had more than 1 ppm, but less than 2 ppm of 1,4-dioxane.

The DEC on Tuesday also took public testimony on proposed rules to implement and enforce the 1,4-dioxane limits.

Specifically, the proposed regulations will define terms, provisions for waiver applications, how manufacturers will show compliance and guidelines for lab tests of products as well as raw materials, officials said.

Lakendra Barajas, an attorney in the toxic exposure and health program at advocacy group Earthjustice, urged the agency to tighten regulations by making sure manufacturers are properly evaluating their supply chains for 1,4-dioxane and closely evaluating any extensions of waivers.

A representative of detergent and cleaning product manufacturers asked the agency to keep the current definition of household cleaning products and to include safeguards, so if concentrations of 1,4-dioxane change after a product is packaged and distributed, the manufacturers are not charged with noncompliance.

“Our industry has made great strides to remain in compliance with the law and achieve the law's intent,” said Marie Gargas, senior director of regulatory and international affairs at the American Cleaning Institute.

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