An everyday item in your shower could be hiding a carcinogenic chemical linked to causing cancer. And even though it is a known carcinogenic, manufacturers and companies do not have to list it on their products ingredients list. 

Below are the most common bath products that contain the toxic substance 1,4-dioxane.

  • Shampoo
  • Shower gel 
  • Hand soap
  • Lotions

Two US Senators are now leading a public push to ban the chemical. The toxin easily dissolves in water and is a clear liquid. 1,4-dioxane is made through a process called ethoxylation. This is where ethylene oxide  –  a well known breast carcinogen – is added to other chemicals to lessen their harshness.

The FDA are fully aware of the use of the toxic substance in everyday bathroom products and do have a federal law in place to stop the carcinogen being used. The FDA encourages manufacturers to stop the use of the toxin.


Studies on laboratory rats showed that when the rats inhaled vapours of 1,4- dioxide for most of their lives or drank laced wayer, they developed;

  • Cancer inside the nose 
  • Cancer in the abdominal cavity
  • Liver cancer

The rats that drank the chemical laced water were the group that developed liver cancer. The nose and abdominal cancer developed from the vapour breathing test.

The studies are limited and not a lot of research can be found on the effects of the carcinogen. But due to the findings of the limited studies  the US Department of Health and Human Services considers 1,4-dioxane to be a human carcinogen.

At current there is at least 8,000 products in the US market with ingredients that may contain 1,4-dioxane. Manufacturers do not intentionally add the substance to their products, it occurs as an unintentional byproduct in some of the uses ingredients.

A 2008 survey found that the chemical was in 46 percent of personal care products that were tested. Companies have voluntarily agreedto stop using 1,4-dioxane including Johnson & Johnson.

 New York senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand are now calling on the FDA to ban it, saying it doesn’t have a real purpose in cosmetics. 

‘The fact that 1,4-dioxane, a potentially dangerous chemical, is hiding out in everyday products expected to make us clean is very disturbing, and to make matters worse, likely carcinogens like this one can be even more harmful to kids,’ Schumer said in a statement.

The new state budget also proposes that water providers regularly test for it and two other contaminants found in wells on Long Island or elsewhere in New York, possibly the first such state law in the nation.