April 30, 2012
Last year, in its Dirty Secrets report, environmental group Women’s Voices for the Earth sent 20 different cleaning products out to an independent lab to find out what, if anything, the products contained beyond the ingredients listed on their labels. The results included a number of surprising discoveries, including the presence of 1,4 dioxane, a solvent the EPA calls a “probable carcinogen,” in the two Tide detergents tested–Tide Original Scent and Tide Free & Gentle.
1,4 Dioxane is a by-product of the chemical processes used to formulate the detergents, not an ingredient added to the mix. According to Alexandra Scranton, director of science and research for Women’s Voices for the Earth, it’s relatively easy to remove from a product. “It’s a contaminant from using things like sodium laureth sulfate, not something they add intentionally,” she says. “But it is a fairly expected contaminant. There are certain things that you do you know you’ll get 1,4 dioxane with, and there are fairly easy things you can do to make sure you don’t get it.”