LOS ANGELES (KTLA) -- Tide detergent may do more than just clean your clothes -- it could also expose you to a cancer-causing chemical.
According to the New York Times, Tide contains trace amounts of 1,4-dioxane, a petrochemical solvent found in paints, varnishes and some cosmetics.
There are no federal limits on what constitutes safe levels of dioxane, but the Environmental Protection Agency says that dioxane may cause cancer in lab rats.
Last fall, Women's Voices for the Earth performed lab tests on 20 cleaning products.
The found "problematic" levels of 1,4-dioxane in original formula Tide (63 parts per million) and fragrance-free Tide Free & Clear (89 ppm).
By comparison, less than 1 ppm of the chemical was found in Bounce Free & Clear dryer sheets.
Environmental and health advocacy groups have asked Tide-maker Procter & Gamble to change the formula for the detergent.
Their efforts are primary focused on Tide Free & Clear, because the product is promoted as a "healthy" detergent ideal for babies.
"Whats most appalling is that Tide Free & Gentle is marketed to moms as a healthier choice for their childrens laundry. Yet infants and children are more vulnerable to chemical exposures because their immune, neurological, and hormone systems are still developing," a message on the Women's Voices for the Earth website said.
Women's Voices has started a petition on its site calling for formula change.
But Procter & Gamble says the amount of the chemical in Tide is well below the safety risk level.
"We are many, many levels of magnitude below the levels that are considered any level of safety risk," Tim Long, a company toxicologist said in the Times article.
Procter & Gamble has reformulated other products in an effort to lower levels of 1,4-dioxane,
In 2010, it made changes to its line of Herbal Essences shampoos so they contained less than 10 ppm of the chemical.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times