1,4-Dioxane as an emerging water contaminant: State of the science and evaluation of research needs

Krystal J. Godri Pollitt*, Jae Hong Kim, Jordan Peccia, Menachem Elimelech, Yawei Zhang, Georgia Charkoftaki, Brenna Hodges, Ines Zucker, Huang Huang, Nicole C. Deziel, Kara Murphy, Momoko Ishii, Caroline H. Johnson, Andrea Boissevain, Elaine O'Keefe, Paul T. Anastas, David Orlicky, David C. Thompson, Vasilis Vasiliou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


1,4-Dioxane has historically been used to stabilize chlorinated solvents and more recently has been found as a contaminant of numerous consumer and food products. Once discharged into the environment, its physical and chemical characteristics facilitate migration in groundwater, resulting in widespread contamination of drinking water supplies. Over one-fifth of U.S. public drinking water supplies contain detectable levels of 1,4-dioxane. Remediation efforts using common adsorption and membrane filtration techniques have been ineffective, highlighting the need for alternative removal approaches. While the data evaluating human exposure and health effects are limited, animal studies have shown chronic exposure to cause carcinogenic responses in the liver across multiple species and routes of exposure. Based on this experimental evidence, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has listed 1,4-dioxane as a high priority chemical and classified it as a probable human carcinogen. Despite these health concerns, there are no federal or state maximum contaminant levels for 1,4-dioxane. Effective public health policy for this emerging contaminant requires additional information about human health effects, chemical interactions, environmental fate, analytical detection, and treatment technologies. This review highlights the current state of knowledge, key uncertainties, and data needs for future research on 1,4-dioxane.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)853-866
Number of pages14
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - 10 Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • 1,4-dioxane
  • Drinking water
  • Exposure
  • Health
  • Remediation
  • Sensors


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