Tests conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) on water samples taken from 45 states have revealed higher than average levels of 1,4-Dioxane, a chemical the EPA classifies as a “likely human carcinogen” in 27 states, putting more than 7 million Americans at risk of life-threatening health issues, the group says.
“States with the most people exposed to 1,4-Dioxane above the increased cancer risk level are California, with 2.5 million people exposed; North Carolina, with 1.2 million; and New York, with 700,000,” reads the EWG press release.
California already classifies 1,4-Dioxane as a chemical known to cause cancer, better known as the Prop 65 classification, which requires label warnings on products containing the carcinogenic agents. 1,4-Dioxane is an industrial solvent used since the 1950s, and it can also be found in cosmetic, personal care, and household cleaning products as “the byproduct of a process called ethoxylation,” notes EWG. But despite its presence in a number of household items, it’s not required to be listed on labels, since it's not an intentional ingredient.
“Despite the known health risks, the EPA has set no enforceable legal limit under the Safe Drinking Water Act,” reports EWG.
“Once again, industry negligence and government inaction results in millions of Americans being exposed through multiple pathways to a highly toxic chemical that could cause cancer,” EWG Senior Scientist Tasha Stoiber, co-author of the report, noted in a statement. “Much of the nation’s tap water and consumer goods are awash in 1,4-Dioxane, putting the health of children and adults at risk.”
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According to EWG, the July nomination of Michael Dourson to head the EPA office that oversees chemical and pesticide safety by President Trump will make regulation of 1,4-Dioxane and similar chemicals even more difficult as Dourson has worked to help chemical companies avoid these types of regulations. Dourson founded and heads TERA, a consulting firm that’s taken funding from chemical companies, including PPG industries, which manufactures products that have been linked to 1,4-Dioxane contamination.
“President Trump could not have found a more objectionable nominee to be in charge of safeguarding Americans from dangerous chemicals than Dourson,” said Melanie Benesh, an EWG legislative attorney and co-author of the report. “His history of pleasing industry funders with studies that find even the most toxic chemicals to be ‘safe’ makes him uniquely unfit for the job.”
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