EPA Responds to Reports on Chromium 6 in Water Supplies

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Recently, an organization called the Environmental Working Group released a study testing water supplies in 35 cities, including Atlanta, showing varying levels of Chromium 6 in the water.  Atlanta’s water had 0.2 parts per billion.

The chemical is commonly discharged from steel and pulp mills, metal-plating plants and leather-tanning facilities, EWG reported.  Chromium 6 was the chemical at issue in the noted Erin Brokovich case.

“Studies show that chromium 6 can cause cancer in people and has also been found to cause damage to the gastrointestinal tract, lymph nodes and liver of animals,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted.

Since then, US Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) have sent letters to the EPA asking for a limit to be set on Chromium 6.

The Environmental Protection Agency issued this response:

“EPA absolutely has a drinking water standard for total chromium, which includes chromium-6 (also known as Hexavalent Chromium), and we require water systems to test for it. This standard is based on the best available science and is enforceable by law. Ensuring safe drinking water for all Americans is a top priority for EPA. The agency regularly re-evaluates drinking water standards and, based on new science on chromium-6, had already begun a rigorous and comprehensive review of its health effects. In September, we released a draft of that scientific review for public comment. When this human health assessment is finalized in 2011, EPA will carefully review the conclusions and consider all relevant information, including the Environmental Working Group’s study, to determine if a new standard needs to be set.” 

“Currently, the total chromium standard is 0.1 mg/L (100 parts per billion).  Our latest data shows no U.S. utilities are in violation of the standard.,” the EPA said.

Sens. Boxer and Feinstein note that EPA’s total chromium standard is two decades old.

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