Tests find likely carcinogen in common household cleaners

Posted: Updated:
FARMINGDALE -

Household products may contain hidden carcinogens, according to a Long Island environmentalist group that tested them.

Citizens Campaign for the Environment hired a state-certified lab to test 30 common products for 1,4-dioxane, which the Environmental Protection Agency says is a likely carcinogen. Twenty-three of them tested positive.

"The results were shocking and alarming," said Adrienne Esposito, the campaign's executive director. "For instance, we now know what Victoria's Secret is, and it's not a good one."

Two Victoria's Secret bath products had the highest concentrations of 1,4-dioxane out of everything the group tested, she said, about 17,000 parts per billion. That far exceeds the EPA's recommendation of .35 parts per billion.

"Cancer isn't sexy," she added.

MORE: News conference on carcinogen found in household cleaners

Tide, the country's most common laundry detergent, was also high on the list with 14,000 parts per billion.

And 1,4-dioxane is a so-called hidden carcinogen: a byproduct of manufacturing that is not listed on ingredient labels.

Procter & Gamble Co., which makes Tide, told News 12 in a statement that 1,4-dioxane is not added to any of its products but "is an impurity found in many commonly used surfactants in the consumer products industry."

"P&G controls and minimizes the presence of 1,4-dioxane in our products and raw material and routinely takes necessary steps to reduce its presence to the lowest levels possible," said Tracey Long, a senior spokesperson. "We do not market any P&G product until it has been thoroughly evaluated for safety and meets all regulatory requirements. So, you can continue to use our products with the confidence that they are safe and will give you the performance that you have come to expect from P&G."

Esposito argues that manufacturers can go further and remove all traces of the chemical from their products.

The safest products had no 1,4-dioxane at all, according to Esposito. Those included Method and Seventh Generation, which make green cleaning products.

Most of the traditional laundry detergents, bath gels and shampoos, including Arm and Hammer, contained 1,4-dioxane, she said.

The chemical also shows up in drinking water -- possibly because so much of it runs into the ground from common cleaning supplies, according to Esposito.

The Food and Drug Administration has already recommended that manufacturers remove 1,4-dioxane from their products.

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