The campaign against the probable carcinogen 1,4-dioxane is moving with impressive speed. The new state budget requires water providers to test regularly for it and two other contaminants found in wells on Long Island or elsewhere in New York, possibly the first such state law in the nation. Nationally, Sen. Chuck Schumer has asked the federal government to force manufacturers to remove it from shampoos, detergents and other consumer products. The substance, a byproduct of the manufacturing process, has been found in nearly half of personal care products and by nearly three-quarters of Long Island water suppliers.
Important steps remain. There is no federal drinking-water standard for 1,4-dioxane, so the state Department of Health must follow through on its promise to set one if the feds don’t act by mid-May. Then the state must mandate promising technology being tested by the Suffolk County Water Authority to take the substance out of drinking water, assuming results mirror those of a successful pilot project.
Environmentalists, state officials and lawmakers have it right: This is a bad chemical. Better to get rid of it altogether in the products we use and the water we drink. — The editorial board