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Carcinogenic chemical in Greensboro city wastewater ‘not an immediate concern’

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GREENSBORO, NC -- Thirty million gallons of water goes through Greensboro's wastewater facility every day.

And while the filtration systems can remove many chemicals, there's one they can't -- 1,4 dioxane.

The Environmental Protection Agency has labeled 1, 4 dioxane as a probable carcinogen. And it has now been found in water all across the state -- from Fayetteville all the way to Greensboro, Asheboro and Reidsville.

Steve Drew, water resources director for the City of Greensboro, said the chemical was found in the city's wastewater only and not its drinking water. The same is true for Asheboro and Reidsville.

Drew said the chemical was found because Fayetteville officials noticed it in their drinking water, and asked upstream cities to test their water to help locate the source of it.

"In our drinking water reservoirs, the risk of having 1, 4 dioxane is simply at zero," Drew said. "Because our drinking water reservoirs are at the highest point upstream of the Cape Fear River Basin. There are no wastewater treatment plants upstream of our intakes."

1,4 dioxane is a byproduct of many common household items like shampoo and makeup.

"So it's not all too surprising that there would be a presence of it in our water," Drew said.

Drew said there is currently no technology to remove 1, 4 dioxane once it's in water, so officials are focusing on finding the source of it, to prevent it from getting into the water in the first place.

The last time Greensboro's drinking water was tested for the chemical was 2014, but wastewater is tested "periodically." Drew said there are currently no regulations from the EPA on how often water needs to be tested for 1, 4 dioxane.