1, 4-Dioxane in Drinking Water
1, 4-Dioxane is…
- Used to stabilize chlorinated solvents.
- Found in small amounts in many personal care products, laundry detergents and food.
- Considered an emerging contaminant.
- In the environment from spills or disposal of solvents that contain it as a stabilizer.
- Likely to stay in water once there – it does not break down naturally.
- 1, 4-Dioxane has been detected in several public water supplies in Minnesota.
- If levels of 1, 4-Dioxane exceed the state’s guidance level, the public will be notified.
What is the risk?
While no human cases have been linked to 1,4-Dioxane, it has been found to cause liver cancer in animal experiments. MDH recommends keeping exposures at or below 1 ppb over a lifetime (70 years) of constant exposure in order to avoid 1 additional case of cancer in a population of 100,000 exposed people.
The additional risk of cancer is much lower if someone has been drinking the contaminated water for only a few days, a few months, or even a few years.
Other activities, like washing dishes, bathing, showering, or watering the lawn do not pose increased risk.
For more information about MDH guidance,
see 1, 4-Dioxane in Drinking Water (PDF:169KB/2 pages).
In response to questions raised by community members, MDH reviewed information about potential exposure to 1, 4-Dioxane when showering. The information can be found at
Concerns about potential exposure to
1, 4-Dioxane when showering (PDF: 84KB/2 pages).
For questions about testing and sampling of drinking water in Minnesota: MDH Drinking Water Protection Program
Email: health.drinkingwater @state.mn.us
For questions about health risks:
MDH Site Assessment and Consultation Unit
Phone: 651-201-4897 or toll-free 1-800-657-3908