Residential Water Treatment for 1,4-Dioxane
As with many contaminants, most of the research done on 1,4-dioxane treatment is focused on large applications like wastewater treatment plants and municipal water suppliers. Often, methods that prove effective for large operations are impossible to apply to residential treatment. In the case of dioxane, advanced oxidation processes involving hydrogen peroxide with ultraviolet (UV) light or ozone and anion exchange with specialty resins are used with some success to treat 1,4-dioxane. These large-scale methods are not practical for residential users.
To plan residential treatment for any contaminant, one needs to consider first how the contaminant is taken in by humans. In this area, too, there is a disturbing lack of information and a lot of contradictory information about dioxane. Water contaminants can be ingested by drinking contaminated water, or breathed in as a vapor or taken in through the skin. Showering is a common hazard since the contaminant can be taken in through the skin or breathed in if it vaporizes. Arsenic, to illustrate, does not evaporate into the air and is not easily absorbed through the skin, so there is little need for “whole house” treatment. Chlorine, conversely, vaporizes easily in the shower and also penetrates the skin, so whole house chlorine treatment is important.
Our recommendation for residential 1,4-dioxane protection is the same as for contaminants like fluoride, arsenic, and chromium. Install a high quality reverse osmosis unit that has at least two carbon stages for drinking water. An undersink RO unit should be a standard feature in all homes. For the whole house, carbon filtration, either as carbon block cartridge filters or a tank-style backwashing filter, provides broad protection against most contaminants and should reduce exposure to dioxane. We do not believe that installation of over-sized carbon tanks just to treat dioxane is advisable.
Leaking underground storage tanks at hazardous waste sites and discharges from manufacturing plants are important sources of 1,4-dioxane water contamination. Other significant sources of exposure to the chemical include personal care products like shampoos, deodorants and lotions as well as laundry products and household cleaning products.