The Facts About 1,4 Dioxane

The Facts About 1, 4 Dioxane 

A news article from January 2015 reported a chemical, 1,4 Dioxane, has been identified in the Cape Fear River and Fayetteville’s water as well as other areas in our region, state and nation. We know reports such as this may cause concern, and we want you to know the facts about 1,4 Dioxane.

Additional Information
Annual Water Quality Report (pdf)
1, 4 Dioxane Questions and Answers (video)

PWC annually tests for 118 elements and contaminants regulated by the EPA. PWC meets or surpasses all the standard requirements annually. We understand that news reports about 1,4-Dioxane cause concerns about the safety of our drinking water. While 1,4-Dioxane has been detected in the Cape Fear River as well as other areas in our region, state and nation, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) currently has no standards for 1,4-Dioxane and has not yet issued regulated safe limits.

If the EPA believed 1,4-Dioxane was an immediate threat, a directive would have been issued. A minimal cancer risk level for 1,4 Dioxane has been noted at 0.35 parts per billion, which is about one drop of water in three Olympic-size swimming pools. If a person drinks water with that level of 1,4 Dioxane for a lifetime , it is estimated that they would have a 1 in a million risk for cancer.

We care deeply about the quality of the water we provide for our customers, and we are committed to providing the highest quality drinking water for our customers. 1,4 Dioxane is used in the manufacturing of textile products, cosmetics, shampoos and other products. It cannot be removed through our traditional water treatment process. Because of this,  we have partnered with other communities and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) to get this compound regulated and out of the Cape Fear River.

We have helped fund research which is identifying its sources in order to reduce or eliminate it so there will be no long-term exposure to our customers. As a result of this partnership, NCDEQ has notified Greensboro, Reidsville and Asheboro to begin monthly monitoring for 1,4-Dioxane in their wastewater treatment facility discharges. Going forward, NCDEQ staff will use the data collected to determine the need for effluent limits to be established in the discharge permits for each of these three upstream municipalities. NCDEQ will establish limits as needed to protect the surface waters for their designated uses.

PWC continually monitors the progress being made to remove 1,4 Dioxane from the Cape Fear River as well as performs monthly testing to monitor the current levels in our drinking source water.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is 1, 4 Dioxane?
1,4-Dioxane is a clear liquid that easily dissolves in water. It is used primarily as a solvent in the manufacture of chemicals and as a laboratory reagent; 1,4-dioxane also has various other uses that take advantage of its solvent properties.
1,4-Dioxane is a trace contaminant of some chemicals used in cosmetics, detergents, and shampoos. However, manufacturers now reduce 1,4-dioxane from these chemicals to low levels before these chemicals are made into products used in the home.

How are people exposed to 1, 4 Dioxane?
People can come into contact with dioxane through the use of cosmetics, shampoos, detergents and other consumer products with dioxane in them. Where solvents — particularly TCA — have polluted a groundwater aquifer or a surface water supply, consumers can be exposed to dioxane through the water they consume or through bathing and showering. Dioxane is transported in groundwater from a source of contamination more quickly than other solvents, so it may be present when other solvents are not.

Is 1,4 Dioxane in drinking water a health concern?
EPA currently identifies dioxane as “likely to be carcinogenic to humans.” This finding is based primarily on toxicology studies conducted using rodents. EPA’s most recent analysis, completed in 2010, concluded that at a concentration of 0.35 parts per billion (ppb) (about one drop of water in three Olympic-size swimming pools) over a lifetime exposure dioxane may lead to negative health effects.  If a person drinks water with that level of 1,4 Dioxane for a lifetime , it is estimated that they would have a 1 in a million risk for cancer.

Is there 1,4 Dioxane in my water?
As part of its Third Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule testing, EPA is examining how prevalent dioxane is in U.S. drinking water supplies and at what level it occurs. Under the present round of UCMR3 testing, many water systems nationwide, like PWC,  are currently testing for 1,4 Dioxane and it is present in our water supply.

Why doesn’t PWC remove it from the water through its treatment plants?

1,4 Dioxane is used in the manufacturing of textile products, cosmetics, shampoos and other products. It cannot be removed through our traditional water treatment process. Because of this,  we have partnered with other communities and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) to get this compound regulated and out of the Cape Fear River as we feel this is the fastest, most cost effective way or protecting our customers.

How is dioxane in drinking water regulated?
The federal drinking water standard for dioxane has not been established. EPA maintains an active program called the Contaminant Candidate List to identify contaminants in public drinking water that warrant detailed study. The most recent Contaminant Candidate List, CCL3, finalized on Sept. 22, 2009, includes 1,4-dioxane.

Will dioxane in drinking water be regulated in the future?
If there is scientifically compelling evidence that shows a large number of U.S. drinking water systems have high amounts of dioxane, it’s possible that they may decide to regulate dioxane in the future. Before regulating a contaminant, EPA considers projected adverse health effects from the contaminant, the extent of occurrence of the contaminant in drinking water, and whether regulation of the contaminant would present a meaningful opportunity for reducing risks to health.

What if I get my water from a private well?
If you get your drinking water from a private well, you can have your water tested for dioxane by a certified laboratory. You can find information on how to sample for dioxane and where to send samples for analysis by contacting your state water laboratory certification officer. Contact information for your state can be found on EPA’s drinking water lab certification page. Additional information about well water testing from the EPA is available on their private drinking water well FAQ page.

Can I buy a home treatment device to remove dioxane?
If you are concerned about dioxane in your drinking water, you may consider purchasing a home treatment device. However, in order to make a well-informed and cost-effective decision, consider:

  • Checking with your water system or consumer confidence report to learn about the amount of dioxane in your water.
  • Identifying a device that has been independently certified to remove dioxane.

NSF International, the Water Quality Association, Underwriters Laboratories and CSA International all certify home treatment products for removal of contaminants. The relevant dioxane removal standard is NSF/ANSI Standard 53. If a home treatment device is used, it is very important to follow the manufacturer’s operation and maintenance instructions carefully in order to make sure the device functions properly.

Is there dioxane in bottled water?
Bottled water quality can vary. Bottled water in the United States is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is required to meet standards equal to the EPA’s tap water standards. There are also individual state standards established for bottled water. In most cases, however, you must contact the bottled water manufacturer for information about dioxane levels in the water.
Information from the American Water Works Association