New York state regulators have banned several popular laundry detergents, citing a new state regulation limiting the presence of a chemical believed to be a human carcinogen.
Regulators said recent tests showed Arm & Hammer Clean Burst, Tide Original, Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin Free & Clear, and Gain Original + Aroma Boost all contained more than 3 parts per million (PPM) of the chemical 1,4-dioxane. New York law limits the chemical in laundry detergents to 2 PPM.
The consumer watchdog group Ingredients Matter said it tested many different brands of detergent last year and found most contained some level of 1,4-dioxane, including plant-based products.
The group said conventional laundry detergents from Arm & Hammer, Tide, and Gain contained more than 3 PPM 1,4-dioxane. Other products from Tide’s gentler lines and products from Mrs. Meyers, All, and Method tested between .18 and .4 PPM, making them acceptable under NY State guidelines but still containing some amount of 1,4-dioxane.
What is 1,4-dioxane?
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has issued a health advisory on 1,4-dioxane, saying it can enter the body when people breathe air or consume water or food contaminated with it.
“People can also be exposed following contact with cosmetics, shampoo, or bubble bath that contain certain ingredients in which 1,4-dioxane may be a contaminant,” the advisory notes. “1,4-Dioxane does not remain in the body because it breaks down into chemicals that are removed quickly.”
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified 1,4-dioxane as a probable human carcinogen, and New York is one of the first states to ban consumer cleaning products that contain too much of it. Other states are likely taking a closer look at products containing the chemical as well.
The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) describes 1,4 dioxane as “highly mobile and persistent in water and is not removed by most standard forms of wastewater and drinking water treatment.”
The agency said it is concerned about the potential adverse impacts on Californians from exposure to 1,4-dioxane, especially children reports Consumer Affairs.