Threats from and Solutions to 1,4-Dioxane in Drinking Water
1,4-dioxane has a long history of attention from the EPA as a probable carcinogen, but recently gained more attention when the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection drastically lowered cleanup and safe drinking water standards. Based on an EPA risk assessment in 2013, the standards for this compound were lowered by an order of magnitude from the previous cleanup standards in New Jersey. This heightened the need to potentially re-open closed remediation cases which created new challenges for treatment to safe drinking water concentration thresholds.
1,4-dioxane is colorless, highly soluble in water and exhibits a faint, sweet, ether-like odor. It is currently described as a "likely" or "probable" carcinogen. In 2015, the New Jersey groundwater / water-quality standard was drastically reduced to 0.4 ug/L. This development has prompted changes to lab methods and the re-evaluation of the potential presence of 1,4-dioxane, particularly at sites with related contaminants of concern.
The detection of 1,4-dioxane in public water supply systems is attributable to point and non-point industrial sources and the disposal of consumer products. The presence of these chlorinated solvent plumes, particularly 1,1,1 trichloroethane (TCA), is often found in existing and former industrial areas, posing a risk to safe drinking water supplies.
EWMA President, Don Richardson gave a presentation on this subject matter at the AWWA NJ 2016 Fall Meeting on September 20th at Jumping Brook Country Club in Neptune, NJ.