This Potentially Cancer-Causing Chemical Might Be Hiding In Your Shower

Photographed by Collins Nai.
Sulfates, parabens, and phthalates are probably already on your shit list, but you’re not alone if 1,4-dioxane has yet to make it onto your radar as another thing to avoid like the plague. In fact, it’s possible that you’ve never even seen the potentially cancer-causing chemical on an ingredients list in the first place — but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
Despite having been identified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a “probable human carcinogen,” not only has 1,4-dioxane not been banned by the Food and Drug Administration, but many companies still aren’t required to list it on their product labels. It's a byproduct that occurs during certain manufacturing processes rather than a cosmetic ingredient in and of itself, and it still lurks in shampoos and hand soaps, conditioners and cleansing solutions, even bubble baths and baby products. It goes down drains and contaminates water supplies.
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That’s why, according to a report from The Hill, senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand are pressuring the FDA, which is the agency responsible for regulating cosmetics, to ban the substance from consumer products. The publication reports that Schumer and Gillibrand had asked the EPA earlier this year to prioritize and hasten the risk evaluation for 1,4-dioxane after it was found to be more prevalent in Long Island’s water supply than anywhere else in New York State. Now, their appeal to the FDA demands a new rule to keep the chemical out of products that are washed down the drain and end up contaminating the nation’s water supply.
“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 in a statement.
There you have it — just one more item to add to the list of things you stress about every morning in the shower.