Scientist looking forward

What Does 1,4 Dioxane Ban Mean For You?

By Erin Speiser, Ph.D., MA
Laundry_ProductsIf a cosmetic or cleaning product is on the shelf at the local market, does that mean it’s safe? The answer is: it depends. New York State has enacted legislation to help ensure safer cosmetics, personal care and cleaning products by limiting the amount of 1,4 Dioxane allowed in these products.

The law went into effect December 31, 2022 to reduce the allowable amount of this chemical to 2 ppm, and further reduces the allowable amount to half that by December 31, 2023.[1] Though the law applies only to NY State, the ripple effect is expected to cascade across the country as manufacturers reformulate products to comply with products sold there.
The chemical is not a stand-alone ingredient in consumer products, but is a by-product of several common ingredients, including: PEG, Polyethylene, Polyethylene Glycol, Polyoxyethylene, -eth, -oxynol and POE.[2] Several agencies, including the U.S. EPA and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), list 1,4 Dioxane as a probable or possible human carcinogen [3] Other possible health effects include eye, respiratory and skin irritation and gastrointestinal pain from inhaled vapors. [3] As with any environmental exposure, the effect on children can be increased due to a variety of factors including their smaller size, frequent hand-to-mouth activity and proportionately larger intake of air, water and food in comparison to adults.[4] 
While the new legislation on 1,4 dioxane is great news for product safety and our health, there are hundreds of other ingredients in cosmetics, personal care and cleaning products that may still damage our health. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) SkinDeep Cosmetics Database rates over 80,000 cosmetics and personal care products to help consumers steer clear of potentially harmful ingredients, and find accessible, affordable alternatives. Their Guide to Healthy Cleaning does the same for cleaning products, which may contribute to short and long-term health issues such as rashes and asthma or may contribute to longer-term issues such as cancer.[5,6] For on-the-go info, the EWG Healthy Living app covers ratings for cosmetics, personal care and cleaning products. The good news: many of these products are available at your local supermarket, pharmacy or big box store.[7]
In the U.S., the FDA does not approve cosmetics or personal care products before they hit store shelves, but does regulate them, responding to complaints and certain issues.[8] If you ever have an issue with a cosmetics or personal care product, report it first to your healthcare provider for any needed medical care, and then to the FDA. Cosmetic companies are not required to share their safety data or consumer complaints with FDA so these must be reported directly to the agency. [9] 
NY State Dept. of Environmental Conservation:
CDC/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry: 1,4 dioxane., accessed 1 March 2023.
Speiser E, Pinto Zipp G, DeLuca DA, et al. Environmental Health Needs Among Latinas in Cleaning Occupations: A Mixed Methods Approach. Environ Health Insights. 2022;16:11786302221100045. Published 2022 May 19. doi:10.1177/11786302221100045
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