Schumer urges FDA to force companies to remove 1,4-dioxane

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Photo by Stephen Romano

Sen. Charles Schumer on Thursday urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to require manufactures to remove the possible carcinogen 1,4-dioxane from consumer products such as laundry detergent after the chemical was found in Long Island drinking water.

Schumer, speaking at a news conference in Lake Success with Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said he and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand submitted a petition to the FDA, asking the agency to prohibit 1,4-dioxane from consumer products.

The petition asks the FDA to require manufactures to vacuum strip the chemical entirely from the products — a method Schumer said is “cost-effective”

“The fact that 1,4 Dioxane, a potentially dangerous chemical, is hiding out in everyday products expected to make us clean is very disturbing, and to make matters worse, likely carcinogens like this one can be even more harmful to kids,” Schumer said. “This likely cancer-causing toxin serves no purpose in these products and is not even identified on packaging so it’s time we drain it from everyday products to make Long Island’s water safer.”

The Environmental Protection Agency recently added 1,4-dioxane to a list of chemicals to be evaluated for potential risks.

Short-term exposure to the contaminant may cause eye, nose and throat irritation, while long-term exposure may cause kidney and liver damage, according to the EPA.

“Companies need to be responsible and end the commercial use of 1,4 Dioxane in personal care products to protect children and families on Long Island from this potential carcinogen,” Gillibrand said in a statement. “I will keep fighting together with Sen. Schumer to end the use of this and other toxic chemicals that are making our communities sick.”

Last month, Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth sent a letter to state Assemblyman Tony D’Urso, asking him to take immediate action on removing 1,4-dioxane from drinking water.

Bosworth’s request followed the release of a report by Citizens Campaign for the Environment that said 1,4-Dioxane is “more prevalent in the Island’s water than anywhere else in the state and far exceeds the national average.”

“I was alarmed and dismayed when learning that 1,4-Dioxane exceeds EPA risk guidelines in almost the entirety of North Hempstead,” Bosworth said in the letter to D’Urso last month. “It is imperative that state officials take strong and sustained action to respond to this threat to public health.”

The chemical is regularly found in detergents, personal care products, shampoos and more.

Manufacturers are not required to list the chemical on a product’s ingredient’s list.

Schumer said the chemical is regularly used as a solvent in everyday toiletry items, but can also be formed during the manufacturing of these products.

An EPA survey from August that examined 28 public water districts across Long Island found that many water suppliers exceeded the national average for traces of the chemical.

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