What in the World is 1,4 Dioxane? By Cindy Dittfield

Updated: Jan 14, 2019



They say what’s old is new again. Unfortunately, today the same adage applies to our drinking water. One of the newest yet one of the oldest water offenders in our area is 1,4 dioxane.

What is 1,4 Dioxane?

1,4 Dioxane is a stable clear liquid at room temperature and is easily mixed with water. Its primary use is a solvent for chemical processing and/or as a reagent for other chemicals and household goods. In other words, 1, 4 Dioxane is present in many of the household products we use today.

Because of the lack of tight regulations at the time, the manufacturing plants simply dumped the sludgy mixtures into the drainage systems. While almost 50 years have passed since the dumping, one might think the residue is no longer present. However, recent testing by an independent laboratory suggests the 1,4 Dioxane is still present in the local waterways and soil (see more below).

Outdated Testing

1,4 Dioxane was used as a solvent in local manufacturing plants here in Northern New Jersey – specifically, in the Mahwah (Bergen County) and Ringwood (Passaic County) areas.

Recent discoveries showed that the tests used were ineffective and outdated. It was the recent article in the Record Newspaper that prompted a deeper dive on this chemical and how and where it may be in our environment.

When the samples were split and sent to independent laboratories in the August and December timeframe, the results showed small amounts in offsite brooks and waterways. Some well readings measured 50 to 95 times the state groundwater standard of 0.4 micrograms per liter.

You Be The Judge

The EPA has responded stating they do not consider 1,4-dioxane an imminent health threat because it has not affected the borough’s drinking water, which comes from a different aquifer three miles from the site. In this scenario, it may be practical for you to be the judge.

The physical ailments associated with 1,4 dioxane are Hepatic (liver), Ocular (eyes), Renal (urinary track or kidneys) and has been identified as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen’.

We realize our municipalities are working hard to insure our water is pure and safe and trying to address the multitude of problems reported daily about our water. However, today with all the potential disconnects and mixed messages, that responsibility does fall upon us more and more.

The first step is having a free water test done to put your mind at ease or get the right filtration system installed in your home. Either way, you know you’ve done what you can to insure your water is safe and pure for you and your family.

~ Cindy Dittfield, writer for Passaic Bergen Water Softening

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