Avoid personal care products containing 1,4-dioxane.
January 30, 2013
1,4-dioxane is used in many products, including paint strippers, dyes, greases, varnishes, and waxes. Residues may also be present in manufactured food additives or on food crops treated with pesticides that contain 1,4-dioxane (such as, vine-ripened tomatoes). But, a family’s and a kid’s main source of exposure to 1,4-dioxane is likely from personal care products like baby bath, deodorants, shampoos, and cosmetics where it’s found as an impurity.
While the U.S. FDA deems levels in personal care products low enough to be considered safe, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, even trace amounts of 1,4-dioxane contamination are cause for concern. One product is unlikely to cause harm, but risk increases from multiple exposures from multiple products over time.
- In laboratory animals, 1,4-dioxane causes cancer. It is considered a probable human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer.
- Long term exposure effects mainly the kidneys and liver.
- Short term exposure can irritate the skin and result in eye and nose irritation.
- 1,4-Dioxane is weakly genotoxic and reproductive effects are unknown; however, a developmental study on rats indicated that the developing fetus may be a target of toxicity.
How can you avoid 1,4-dioxane?
The best way to avoid 1,4-dioxane is to read labels on personal care products (even those labeled “natural”). To identify potential dioxane containing products, search product ingredient lists for indications of ethoxylation including “myreth”, “oleth”, “laureth”, “ceteareth”, and other “eth” compounds, as well as “PEG,” “polyethylene,” “polyethylene glycol,” “polyoxyCheethlene,” or “oxynol” in ingredient names.