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The Attorney General of California has sued four companies for manufacturing and selling soaps that allegedly expose consumers to 1,4-dioxane in their soaps, bath gels, body washes and liquid dish soaps and without warning consumers of containing carcinogen in soaps (ACSC Case No. RG-08-389960). 1,4-dioxane is listed in the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 as a carcinogen.

In Europe, dioxane is being listed in the Cosmetic Directive (76/768/EEC) as a substance which must not form as a part of composition of cosmetic products. A recall case in Germany reported that 1,4-dioxane was found in a children bath set comprising a shower gel, foam bath, shower and bath gel for skin and hair (RAPEX No. 10620-06).

1,4-dioxane is usually not an intentionally added ingredient. It is a petroleum-derived contaminant which could be found in products containing ethoxylated surfactants, polyethylene, polyethylene glycol, polyoxyethylene and polyethoxyethylene. The safety of 1,4-dioxane was raised in the 1970s and its toxicity has been verified by various authorities. The California proposition 65 included 1,4-dioxane as a cancer-causing chemical in 1988 and the US Environmental Protection Agency considered it as a probable human carcinogen. It is found that 1,4-dioxane is readily absorbed through the lungs, skin and gastrointestinal tract. Therefore, Concern groups warn parents the possibility of exposing their children to multiple sources of contaminated personal care products including shampoo, baby wash and body lotion.

A survey done by the US environmental working group found that besides shampoos and bath products, hair relaxers, hair dyes and bleaching products, hair removers, sunless tanning products, body firming lotions, hormonal creams, facial moisturizers, anti-aging creams, body lotions and eye creams may also contain 1,4-dioxane.
If you ever doubt whether your personal care products contain the cancer-causing chemical, 1,4-dioxane, SGS Hong Kong can provide you with an answer.

Man Mak (Life Science)
t: + 852 2609 9611 (ext 3353)
f: + 852 2603 7577
Man Chan (Hardlines)
t: + 852 2774 7168
f: + 852 2646 0026


SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 75,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 1,500 offices and laboratories around the world.