1,4-Dioxane

1,4-Dioxane is a clear, colorless liquid with a faint sweet odor. It is considered a byproduct of ethylene oxide reacting with other ingredients.

According to the National Institutes of Health: "1,4-Dioxane is probably carcinogenic to humans". It is a synthetic petrochemical. The 1,4-dioxane found in laundry detergent is particularly harmful in the fact that the chemical binds easily to water and remains there. Even after water containing the chemical has been purified and filtered, low levels have been detected, indicating that it is not easily removed from water. Numerous water supplies across the country have been found to be tainted with 1,4-dioxane.

Uses: Often used as a stabilizer, or solvent in the manufacturing process.

Found in: dish soap, laundry soap, shower gels, deodorants, shampoos, mouthwash, cosmetics.

Acute (short-term) inhalation exposure to high levels of 1,4-dioxane has caused vertigo, drowsiness, headache, anorexia and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs in humans.  It may also irritate the skin.  Damage to the liver and kidneys has been observed in rats chronically (long-term) exposed in their drinking water.  

**1,4-dioxane is technically considered a contaminant and thus does not have to be included on product labeling.