Good Question: Did the state ban a suspected cancer-causing chemical from detergent?

Good Question: Did the state ban a suspected cancer-causing chemical from laundry detergent?

Updates on local, state and national News are detailed by the News10NBC Morning Team, along with traffic, sports and the weather forecast.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A couple years ago, New York State banned a chemical in laundry detergent suspected of causing cancer.

You may have expected to see some changes to your options at the grocery store as a result of the ban. But that’s exactly what one you of didn’t notice, prompting today’s good question.

You might remember seeing headlines like this: “New York is limiting levels of potentially cancer-causing chemical in laundry detergent.”

One of you wrote to us saying: “A while ago, you did a segment on several laundry detergents that contain high levels of carcinogens. Can you report on the status of this?”

The substance in question is 1,4-dioxane. It’s sometimes called a “forever chemical” and it’s been found in popular brands like Tide and Gain. The American Cleaning Institute says it’s a byproduct of the manufacturing process, meaning you won’t see it on any labels.

As of Dec. 31, 2023, New York State only allows one part-per-million in cleaning products. If you’re wondering why you haven’t seen any brands disappear from store shelves, Proctor and Gamble, the company that owns both Tide and Gain, has this statement on its website:

“If you washed and wore over 1,000 loads of laundry every day, you’d still be below the safe limit for 1,4-dioxane.”

Brands like Tide and Gain have had a couple of years now to lower the level of 1,4 dioxane in their products.

On its website, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation says the law will allow a manufacturer to apply for a one-year waiver twice. But they have to show proof to the DEC that the manufacturer has taken steps to reduce the substance in its products. Here is a statement from the DEC:

“DEC prioritizes the protect public health and the environment of the state and its residents, including helping prevent public exposure to emerging contaminants like 1-4-Dioxane, part of our state’s nation-leading efforts to reduce the presence of and potential for exposure to harmful chemicals in the environment. Several new laws took effect in 2023 to help protect public health and the environment by reducing exposure to harmful chemicals in everyday items.” 

“In 2020, New York formally adopted among the nation’s lowest maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for drinking water for Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) at 10 parts per trillion (ppt), and the first national standard for 1,4-dioxane at 1 part per billion (ppb). While the MCLs provide protection for finished drinking water, these new laws will provide complementary protection to prevent other sources of emerging contaminants that could affect public health.”

If you have a Good Question you’d like answered, send News10NBC an email at