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Levels of common harmful chemical declining across Long Island, environmentalists say

Business Wire

Levels of the toxic chemical 1,4-dioxane have significantly decreased across Long Island, according to the Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

The decline stems from a law in New York placing a cap on the amount of the chemical that can be used in household products, which was passed by the State Legislature in 2019. The law was created after the organization lobbied the legislature for its creation.

Adrienne Esposito, the organization’s executive director, said residents on Long Island were likely exposed to less 1,4-dioxane within the last year than before the law was passed.

“The good news is that people in New York are being exposed to far less toxic chemicals, 1,4-dioxane, than they were just four short years ago,” Esposito said. "And that’s great news [that] the law is working. 1,4-dioxane levels in common household products are way down.”

Despite the limit, manufacturers can apply for exemptions for individual products that have levels of 1,4-dioxane above what is permitted by law.

The organization found more than 1,500 exceptions were issued last year, with many of the products — including laundry detergents, baby powder, shampoos and cleaners — having levels of the chemical significantly above the amount specified by the law.

“We were even more surprised at how high the numbers were of 1.4 dioxane in those products. Far higher than we had anticipated, far higher than what we had found in our initial testing back in 2019,” said Jordan Christensen, the organization’s director of programs.

So far this year, 26 products have been given exceptions, and the amount of 1,4-dioxane present in the products has greatly decreased.

Sky Crabtree is a news intern at WSHU for the spring of 2024.