It is the first public health goal in the U.S.A. for hexavalent chromium, made infamous in 'Erin Brockovich.' The goal isn't an enforceable standard but will help develop one, an official says.
Hexavalent chromium occurs naturally in some drinking water. The metal is also
used in a number of industrial applications and has entered some water
supplies as a result of past waste-disposal practices. The U.S. national drinking water limit for total chromium is 100 ppb, but water system monitors are not required to distinguish what percentage of that is hexavalent chromium versus other less harmful ions such as trivalent chromium. The importance of speciation in controlling the environmental fate,
toxicity and bioavailability of trace elements is now well recognized.
With respect to chromium, a widely-used element in industry, specific
attention has been devoted to distinguish hexavelent chromium that is
classified to be carcinogenic from trivalent chromium that is believed
to play a beneficial role in the glucose metabolism and therefore is
included in some food supplements and health products. Therefore,
during the last decade, a bunch of rules and legislation has been
established, meant to restrict the exposure of humans to hexavalent
chromium. In January this year, U.S. EPA officials recommended that water systems start testing for hexavalent chromium, and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has said the agency will probably revise its standards soon.
California environmental officials have detected hexavalent chromium
in the drinking water of an estimated 13 million people in 52 of the state's 58 counties, including Los Angeles.
At least 74 million Americans in 42 states drink chromium-polluted tap water, much of it probably tainted with hexavalent chromium,
according to studies by the nonprofit Oakland-based Environmental
Working Group. They also found chromium 6 in tap water from 31 of 35
cities tested last year,
with some of the highest levels in Riverside (1.69 ppb) and San Jose (1.34 ppb).California's public health goal for Chromium:
On Wednesday, July 27, the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental
Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) published the nation’s first public health goal (PHG) for hexavalent chromium in drinking water.
The PHG for hexavalent chromium is established at 0.02 parts per
billion (ppb), a level at which adverse
health effects are not expected to occur from a lifetime of exposure. That means for every million people who drink tap water with that level
of hexavalent chromium every day for 70 years, there would likely be one
additional case of cancer attributable to exposure to the metal, state
“This final public health goal is the culmination of years of study and
research on the health effects of this chemical,” said Dr. George
Alexeeff, OEHHA’s Acting Director. “As the nation’s first official goal
for this contaminant, it will be an important tool that the Department
of Public Health will use to develop a regulatory standard that will
protect Californians from the health risks of chromium 6 in drinking
“Adoption of the PHG is an important step in the process of ensuring
high-quality drinking water for Californians,” said Dr. Alexeeff “ The
PHG reflects the most recent and definitive scientific research and
demonstrates OEHHA’s commitment to fully assessing the health risks of
hexavalent chromium.” Related information OEHHA: Hexavalent Chromium in Drinking Water OEHHA: Hexavalent Chromium Public Health Goal for Drinking Water CDPH: Chromium-6 in Drinking Water Sources: Sampling Results Environmental Working Group: Cancer-causing Chromium (VI) Pollution in U.S. Tap Water EPA: Recommendations for enhanced monitoring for Hexavalent Chromium (Chromium-6) in Drinking Water Related EVISA Resources Link page: All about chromium Link Database: Legislation for Chromium in Drinking Water Link Database: Toxicity of Chromium Related EVISA News May 26, 2011: Oral ingestion of hexavalent chromium through drinking water and cancer mortality January 19, 2011: EPA Issues Guidance for Enhanced Monitoring of Hexavalent Chromium in Drinking Water November 7, 2010: US EPA offers chance to speak out against hexavalent chromium September 15, 2010: EPA accuses chromium industry of withholding lung cancer study June 12, 2010: Chromium(VI) much more toxic than chromium(III): At least for freshwater algae a paradigm to revise? May 17, 2007: Hexavalent Chromium in Drinking Water Causes Cancer in Lab Animals
June 8, 2006: Scientific journal adds fuel to ongoing chromium debate
last time modified: July31, 2011