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New York law limits levels of possible cancer-causing substance found in popular brands of laundry detergents

Studies have shown that these products contain so-called "forever chemicals."

1,4-Dioxane laundry Detergent

Photo Credit: iStock

New York is taking action to reduce the amount of forever chemicals and contaminants in the state's water supply by limiting the amount of one probable cancer-causing substance in household products. 

According to a statement from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), a limit has been placed on the amount of 1,4-dioxane that can be present in products sold in the state of New York. 

For household cleaning and personal care products, the maximum allowable concentration under the new law is two parts per million (ppm) of 1,4 dioxane as of Dec. 31, 2022, which will reduce to one ppm on Dec. 31, 2023. A 10 ppm limit has also been implemented for cosmetics.

In a 2022 study conducted by the chemical testing lab Bureau Veritas, laundry detergents from Tide, Arm & Hammer, and Gain were shown to exceed this limit. However, in an email to The Cool Down, a spokesperson for both Tide and Gain stated that the brands changed their products to be in compliance with New York's new law before it came into effect.

The EPA classifies 1,4-dioxane as "likely to be carcinogenic to humans" (i.e. likely to cause cancer). The substance is not a main ingredient in any product but rather a byproduct that is created during the manufacturing of PET, a type of plastic widely used in product packaging.

Ingredients Matters' study found the detergent tested with the highest level of 1,4-dioxane was Arm & Hammer Clean Burst with 4.28 ppm, followed by Tide Original with 3.67 ppm, Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin Free & Clear with 3.44 ppm, and Gain Original + Aroma Boost with 3.32 ppm. 

The study also found Method Laundry Detergent and Seventh Generation Free & Clear had the lowest 1,4-dioxane levels at 0.18 and 0 ppm, respectively. 

Mrs. Meyers Clean Day, Tide Free & Gentle, All Stainlifters Free & Clear, and Tide PurClean Plant-Based all came in at acceptable amounts under the New York law with between 0.4 and 0.31 ppm.

However, an industry group representing detergent manufacturers is pushing back against the report. 

"These products were analyzed months before the [New York] law went into effect and [are] not reflecting the recent changes made by the manufacturers," the American Cleaning Institute (ACI) said in a statement.

As of publication, NYSDEC has not yet announced or imposed any bans on the use or sale of specific detergent products.

Excluding the results from the third-party testing on detergents, conventional laundry products contain harsh ingredients that may pose a risk to human and environmental health. 

You can make your laundry routine truly clean with detergents from brands like Dirty Labs, Dropps, and more.

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