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1,4-dioxane is a chemical that can be found in:
1,4-dioxane is not always added to these products on purpose, but it may show up in very small amounts in some of the things you use. Ingredients to look for include PEG, polyethylene, polyethylene glycol, and polyoxyethylene. Also, ingredients with the word or syllable “-eth,” or “-oxynol” may contain 1,4-dioxane. Based on current science, the amount of 1,4-dioxane in these products is not likely to be harmful, even if you use them every day.
You can be exposed to 1,4-dioxane by drinking it, breathing it in, or getting it on your skin. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s National Toxicology Program have linked drinking and breathing in 1,4-dioxane to the development of cancer based on studies on animals. Being exposed to levels of 1,4-dioxane over a long time is also linked to kidney and liver damage in laboratory tests in rodents. Limited information is available on potential risks to humans from 1,4-dioxane exposure.
The following information can tell you if 1,4 dioxane is in your drinking water:
In areas around the state where there is contamination, the MDEQ sets cleanup levels that help protect public health. This level is called a cleanup criterion. In the past, the cleanup criterion for 1,4-dioxane in drinking water was 85 parts per billion (ppb). Based on updated science, the MDEQ has developed a draft drinking water cleanup criterion of at or below 7.2 ppb for 1,4-dioxane. The MDEQ is proposing the draft drinking water cleanup criterion using updated cancer risk estimates determined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The MDEQ used the EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System’s number because it is the best available science and protects everyone - including children - when people drink water with 1,4-dioxane at or below this level.
Water with 1,4-dioxane levels at or below 7.2 ppb - Based on current science, if your test level for 1,4-dioxane is at or below the draft MDEQ drinking water criterion of 7.2 ppb, your risk of having health problems from drinking water is considered low. You may choose to use other sources of water, but these sources will not be provided by the MDEQ.Water with 1,4-dioxane levels above 7.2 ppb - If your test level for 1,4-dioxane is above 7.2 ppb, the MDEQ will contact you to provide bottled water for drinking until city water is available.
Many wells are regularly tested for 1,4-dioxane. See a map of testing locations.
Pall Corporation currently has 257 monitoring wells. Monitoring wells are wells that were put in specifically to track the movement of the plume. Existing residential wells that are no longer used for drinking water are also used for monitoring. Monitoring wells are sampled at various times throughout the year. Some are tested monthly, while others are tested every three months, every six months, or once a year. No one drinks the water from these monitoring wells.
There are 34 drinking water wells at homes and businesses in the plume area that are tested every three months, every six months, or once a year, depending on location. Seven of these wells have tested positive for 1,4-dioxane at some point in their monitoring history. Of these seven wells, six have shown levels of 1 to 3 parts per billion (ppb) of 1,4-dioxane. These levels are less than the draft MDEQ drinking water criterion of 7.2 ppb. Only one well, serving a home and two businesses, tested above the new MDEQ draft drinking water criterion. This location was connected to city water in early March 2016. 1,4-dioxane has not been detected in the City of Ann Arbor’s drinking water.
If your water is not already being tested but you would like to test it, you are responsible for any cost. There are three laboratories located near our community that can run tests for 1,4-dioxane. Please note that only the MDEQ Drinking Water Laboratory provides copies of results to Washtenaw County Public Health. If you use any other laboratory and you would like your results to be kept on file with Washtenaw County, please contact Jennifer Conn with Washtenaw County Public Health.
Unfortunately, filters such as carbon filters and reverse osmosis filters cannot effectively remove 1,4-dioxane.
If your well water has been tested and is at or below the draft MDEQ drinking water criterion of 7.2 parts per billion (ppb), it is considered okay to use the water for drinking (including making things like tea and coffee). Limited information is available on potential risks to infants from 1,4-dioxane exposure. If 1,4-dioxane is detected in your well water, but is at or below the draft MDEQ drinking water criterion of 7.2 ppb, it is recommended you talk with your pediatrician and use bottled water for preparation of infant formula. If your well water tests above the draft MDEQ drinking water criterion of 7.2 ppb, you will be provided with bottled water by the MDEQ until you can be connected to city water.
If your well water has been tested and is at or below the draft MDEQ drinking water criterion of 7.2 parts per billion (ppb), it is considered okay to use the water for things like bathing, washing hands, and doing laundry. If your well water is above the draft MDEQ drinking water criterion of 7.2 ppb, you will receive bottled water for drinking until you can be connected to city water. You should contact the MDEQ or Washtenaw County Public Health for information and direction on using your water for bathing, washing hands, and laundry.
Not much research has been done on 1,4-dioxane in breast milk. If you are breastfeeding, it is recommended you talk with your healthcare provider and drink bottled water.
Water coming into basements may come from several things. It is common for surface water, such as rain or snow melt, to enter basements. Surface water is not likely to be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane. If you live in an area with a high water table, groundwater may seep into your basement. Research has not been done to determine what risk there might be in this situation.
Using well water in a humidifier is not recommended. Most manufacturers say to fill your humidifier with distilled water. Distilled water is cleaner to breathe and will also slow the build-up of scale in your humidifier, possibly making it last longer.
Since 2006, Washtenaw County Public Health has participated in a community group called the Coalition for Action on Remediation of Dioxane (CARD). CARD is a partnership of local governments and citizens that develops strategies to address the groundwater contamination from the 1,4-dioxane plume. The group meets monthly, and meetings are open to the public. In addition, there is an email listserv you can join to stay updated. If you have additional questions or concerns about 1,4-dioxane, please contact: