Chemical associated with long-term cancer risk found in New Brighton water

News Release
April 17, 2015

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Chemical associated with long-term cancer risk found in New Brighton water

Testing found 1, 4-Dioxane at very low levels, but above state’s health risk limit

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has found elevated levels of a chemical called 1, 4-Dioxane in the City of New Brighton’s drinking water system. The issue does not present an immediate health risk. However, the levels exceed the state’s health risk limit for long-term exposure. The City of New Brighton has implemented plans for lowering the levels of the chemical in the drinking water.

City residents will have an opportunity to learn more about those plans and have their questions answered at a Town Hall meeting May 2 at the New Brighton Community Center. More information about the chemical can be found on the MDH website at 1,4-Dioxane in Drinking Water (PDF).

After extensive testing, MDH confirmed in March 2015 that 1,4-Dioxane levels in New Brighton’s treated water were repeatedly at levels above the state’s Health Risk Limit of 1 ppb (part per billion), in the range of 3-5 ppb.

No human cases of cancer have been linked to 1, 4-Dioxane. Risk assessments based on animal testing indicate this chemical may pose a cancer risk to humans. The risk of developing cancer from exposure to 1, 4-Dioxane at the levels found in New Brighton’s drinking water is very low, but it cannot be dismissed.

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.

New Brighton will be using wells for public water that have no detections of 1, 4-Dioxane in order to eliminate exposure to residents and will not provide water for Fridley. New Brighton, together with state and federal agencies, is actively exploring longer-term solutions for addressing the 1, 4-Dioxane issue in the public water supply and will be following-up with further information for city residents and businesses in the days ahead.


Media inquiries:

Doug Schultz
MDH Communications