Cleaner Living: Toxin #9- 1,4 Dioxane


1,4 Dioxane is a carcinogenic compound that is used in dry cleaning solvents, lacquers and automotive coolant.  It is listed on the State of California’s list of chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects. The California Environmental Protection Agency also lists 1,4-dioxane as a suspected kidney toxicant, neurotoxicant and respiratory toxicant.  It is banned for use in cosmetics in Canada and the EU.

It is not listed as an ingredient in any products on EWG’s Skin Deep database.

So why is this a toxin we should know about? Because it may not be on the label, but it CAN be found in the product. 1,4 Dioxane is known to be an impurity (contaminant) in a long list of other common ingredients found in our most favorite soaps, shampoos, and BABY PRODUCTS!  But because it is a contaminant and not an intentional ingredient, the FDA does not require it to be listed on the label or even warned about. According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

1,4-dioxane shows up in personal care products because it is the byproduct of some chemical ingredient manufacturing processes, including the process by which sodium lauryl sulfate becomes sodium laureth sulfate. The latter SLS is used in products that make suds, like shampoo, bubble bath and body wash.

Naysayers are quick to point out that it is highly unlikely that using one product containing 1,4 dioxane on it’s own will cause significant harm, however they fail to recognize that repeated exposure from different products WILL add up.

While companies spend millions, if not billions, of dollars every day marketing their products to consumers, the pennies it would cost to make their products safe from impurites like 1,4 dioxane (vaccum -stripping to remove impurities, or skipping these harsh ingredients all together) do not seem worth it to them.

Unless we have a say with our money and our decision to discontinue our support of these products.

What can you do?

  • Since it is not listed on labels, look for these ingredients (in part or whole) to avoid for possible contamination: “PEG,” “polyethylene,” “polyethylene glycol,” “polyoxyethylene,” “-eth-” (such as sodium laureth sulfate), “oxynol” “ceteareth” or “oleth”
  • Contact companies who use these ingredients and demand them to use safer manufacturing practices to avoid contamination of ingredients.

Up Next: Toxin #10- Formaldehyde

7 comments on “Cleaner Living: Toxin #9- 1,4 Dioxane”

  1. Hi Joy,
    Thanks for your comment!

    It can be very intimidating! I am going to compile an alphabetical list of all of the ingredients to watch out for, as a kind of shopping guide, and I will also be doing some reviews of products I trust in the future.

    I wanted to get all of this info out first so people would understand when we do a product review.

  2. These posts are really interesting – but a little intimidating too. I fell like I need a print out to go to the store to rememebr all the names.

    Maybe a quick list of some good to use products might be helpful. 🙂
    Like for Momma: Shampoos or bodywashes. – or did I miss that list – sorry if I did.

    But love all the info on these toxins.

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