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The Facts About 1, 4 Dioxane

October 23, 2019

The NC Division of Environmental Quality has notified communities along the Cape Fear River Basin of a release of 1,4 Dioxane   that occurred on October 11.  Because of the location of the release and dilution effect of the Cape Fear River, PWC does not anticipate the levels of 1,4 Dioxane to be any higher than previously recorded since monthly monitoring began in 2014.  PWC currently tests monthly for the unregulated contaminate and will begin daily testing in light of recent releases. Test results in September recorded levels of 5.90 ug/l (micrograms per liter or parts per billion).  Prior to September, PWC’s monthly levels were at 1.60 ug/l or lower for the past 12 month. Daily testing will continue until we are confident that contaminant levels have returned to normal levels.

There is no EPA standard for 1,4 Dioxane, however, notes that 35 parts per billion, consumed continually over a lifetime is considered a risk.  PWC’s treatment process does not filter this. Preventing this contaminant from being released into the Cape Fear River is the most effective and fastest way to address the issue.   PWC remains very active regarding 1,4 Dioxane, including funding a study that identified the general area this was coming from so that those areas could monitor and work to remove it.    We understand the public’s concern as we too drink our water. We continue to use the water and feel there’s not an immediate risk but it’s in everyone’s  best interest to ensure that the State takes steps to remove it from upstream sources as soon as possible.

NC Division of Environmental Quality  Notification- October 22, 2019

We are notifying drinking water facilities on the Cape Fear River of elevated levels of 1,4 dioxane discovered in wastewater treatment plant discharge from Reidsville and Greensboro.

As part of the continued investigation into the 1,4 dioxane levels in the Cape Fear River, DEQ staff sampled effluent from the Reidsville Wastewater Treatment Plant. The initial sample results received today show 1400 ug/L (micrograms per liter) of 1,4 dioxane from the Reidsville WWTP on October 11, 2019. While additional data is necessary, DEQ is notifying downstream utilities and instituting weekly sampling at the Reidsville site.

Weekly sampling is already required at the Greensboro site as a result of the August 1,4 dioxane release and investigation<https://deq.nc.gov/news/press-releases/2019/10/15/deq-investigating-14-dioxane-release>. The Greensboro WWTP results received today show 20 ug/L on October 7 and 45 ug/L on October 11.  The laboratory sheets are attached.

The EPA has set an advisory lifetime health goal of 35 ug/L for drinking water.

Reidsville officials have indicated that two companies within their pretreatment system, Dystar and Unifi, are possible sources of the chemical.  Weekly sampling will help determine the extent of the loading to the river. DEQ will pursue appropriate enforcement action for all identified permit violations in this case.


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.

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.

The EPA has not established drinking water standards for 1,4-Dioxane but  has set an advisory lifetime health goal (a minimal cancer risk level)  of 35 ug/L (parts per billion) for drinking water.

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 as we feel this is the fastest, most effective way of protecting our customers.

We have helped fund research which has identified its sources so that it can be reduced or eliminated to ensure no long-term exposure to our customers. As a result of this partnership, NCDEQ requires  Greensboro, Reidsville and Asheboro to monitor monthly  for 1,4-Dioxane in their wastewater treatment facility discharges. Also, in order to assess the levels of both 1,4-Dioxance and several emerging contaminants known as Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) within the entire Cape Fear River Basin, NCDEQ is requiring all wastewater discharges with approved Pretreatment Programs, to perform investigative monitoring at their treatment plant influents for these compounds for three consecutive months, starting in July 2019. NCDEQ staff  is using 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 effective way of 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)