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May 4, 2015

Testing the waters: 1,4-Dioxane in North Carolina's Cape Fear River Basin

It was an email from a colleague that tipped off environmental engineer Detlef Knappe of possible 1,4-dioxane contamination in the Cape Fear River Basin, North Carolina's largest watershed and a source of drinking water for communities across the state. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified 1,4-dioxane as a probable human carcinogen. It is an industrial solvent used in the textile and paper industries and a by-product of manufacturing processes involving ethylene oxide, such as the production of certain plastics and surfactants used in laundry detergents and shampoos. With support from a National Science Foundation (NSF) RAPID grant, Knappe and his team at North Carolina State University (NCSU) have begun to identify 1,4-dioxane sources and how 1,4-dioxane impacts drinking water quality. (RAPID is short for Grants for Rapid Response Research.) Another research goal is to determine whether home filtration devices effectively remove 1, 4-dioxane from tap water and how long those filters will last.

Credit: National Science Foundation

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