NOTE: This story was updated on Dec. 11 at 12:46 p.m.
MELVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — In a little over a year from now, cleaning products containing the contaminant 1,4-dioxane can no longer be sold New York.
The chemical has been found in drinking water wells and is considered a likely carcinogen, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Tuesday.
Some well-known cleaning and cosmetic products will have to change their formula to remain on store shelves in the Empire State. On Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law that prohibits the sale of thousands of products that contain more than a trace of 1,4-dioxane.
“Whether you hold it in your hand, apply it to your face or drink it in your water, it can cause cancer,” said Assemblyman Steve Englebright, D-East Setauket.
Englebright, a scientist, sponsored the bill, after Long Island turned up the highest detected levels in the entire country. With no federal standards for the chemical, he said the state had to lead the way and does not expect the products to disappear from New York.
“Those products need our market to remain viable, so they will make adjustments in the manufacturing process,” Englebright said.
The American Cleaning Institute, which represents more than 100 companies, called the law ill advised. It blames contaminants in drinking water on products from decades ago, adding today’s product levels are so low, lowering them further is not feasible.
“The passage of this bill will not have addressed the issue at hand and it could take safe and essential cleaning products off store shelves,” the ACI’s Brian Sansoni told Gusoff during a phone interview.
The law gives manufacturers until 2022 to adjust their formula. Environmental groups said it is possible to make cleaning products that don’t produce the 1,4-dioxane.
“The industry doesn’t want to remove the 1,4-dioxane, but they can. We can no longer live in a day and age where we are shampooing our hair and bathing our children in cancer-causing chemicals,” said Adrienne Esposito of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment.
Water customers will soon be paying dearly to strip the contaminant already in Long Island’s ground water from decades of industrial dumping. Notices just sent to Suffolk County water customers reveals a new $20-per-quarter surcharge.
The utility said it supports the new law to prevent 1,4-dioxane from reaching ground water in the future and sponsors said the product ban will eventually save municipalities millions by preventing continued contamination.