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New York State Bans Laundry Detergents Containing Probable Carcinogen

Jan 17, 2023

New York State Bans Laundry Detergents Containing Probable Carcinogen
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To protect New Yorkers from forever chemicals and contaminants in the water supply, a new regulation recently went into effect, banning all laundry detergents that contain more than two parts per million (PPM) of a probable human carcinogen. The chemical byproduct, 1,4-Dioxane, is present in many popular laundry detergents. In recent tests, Arm & Hammer Clean Burst, Tide Original, Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin Free & Clear, and Gain Original + Aroma Boost all contained more than 3 PPM of 1,4-Dioxane, over the NY State limit.

Is 1,4-Dioxane in Your Laundry Detergent?

A study conducted by chemical testing lab Bureau Veritas, commissioned by Ingredients Matter, in the spring of 2022 detected 1,4-Dioxane in nearly all laundry detergents it tested, from conventional brands like Tide and All to plant-based brands like Mrs. Meyers.

  • Conventional laundry detergents from Arm & Hammer, Tide, and Gain contained more than 3 PPM 1,4-Dioxane.
  • Other products from Tide's gentler lines (Tide Free & Gentle and Tide Pur Clean) 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
  • Although the product contains ethoxylated ingredients, dioxane was not detected in the Seventh Generation Free & Clear tested batch.
  • Ingredients Matter Laundry Soap is made without ethoxylated detergents, so it cannot contain 1,4-Dioxane.

What is 1,4-Dioxane?


The 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. According to DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos, "DEC prioritizes the health and well-being of New Yorkers and our environment, and the implementation of new laws for chemicals in everyday household products is part of our state's ongoing commitment to protect communities…"

In recent years, 1,4-Dioxane has been detected in groundwater and drinking water supplies near chemical plants and waste sites, but because of manufacturing with ethoxylated ingredients, some household cleaning products also contain varying amounts of 1,4-Dioxane. New York State has led the national charge to reduce allowable levels of the probable carcinogen in an effort to curb contaminants and forever chemicals in the state’s water supply.  The new law requires household cleaners to include no more than 2 PPM of 1,4-Dioxane. That limit will reduce to a maximum of 1 PPM by the end of 2023. Meanwhile, environmental groups and brands like Ingredients Matter are targeting 1,4-Dioxane's eradication in household cleaning products altogether.

Fulfilling The Need for a Clean Laundry Detergent


Ingredients Matter, a start-up household cleaning brand out of Minneapolis, has created a laundry care product line without 1,4-Dioxane, a probable carcinogenic byproduct found in many household cleaners and laundry detergents. The brand engaged Bureau Veritas, an international leader in third-party lab testing, to evaluate Dioxane levels in the tested brands.

According to Ingredients Matter President Christiana Kippels, "Consumers are trying to make better choices for the health of their families and the planet, but greenwashing is rampant among brands that use terms like bio-based and plant-powered. Those brands are still using ethoxylated detergents, which we know may leave behind residual 1,4-Dioxane. So, we weren't surprised to see 1,4-Dioxane in testing because we know it can be created during ethoxylation and remain in the final product.”

How Can Consumers Avoid 1,4-Dioxane?


According to Kippels, "That's the big challenge for consumers. 1,4-Dioxane is only detectable by lab equipment; it's not visible to the naked eye. As we saw with these results, the detergent-making process can leave 1,4-Dioxane behind as a residual ingredient, and that chemical can end up on bath towels and baby blankets and flushed out into the groundwater. Because we know that Dioxane can be left behind, and without chemistry equipment, we can't know just how much, we avoid it altogether."

These ethoxylates are commonly found in laundry detergents:
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate
- Laureth-6 & Laureth-7
- C12-16 Pareth
- Polyethelene Glycol (PEG)

The Next Round of Regulations


The current 1,4-Dioxane limit stands at 2 PPM. That limit will reduce to a maximum of 1 PPM by the end of 2023. Meanwhile, environmental groups have started examining how household products contribute to the probable carcinogen contaminating the nation’s water supply, research institutes like Yale have set up Superfunds to investigate water contaminants linked to cancer, and brands like Ingredients Matter are targeting 1,4-Dioxane's eradication in household cleaning products altogether.

 

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