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EPA calls for more study on hexavalent chromium in drinking water


The issue of the pollutant, also known as chromium (VI), created once again some headlines, when the Environmental Working Group published their report about results for chromium testing in drinking water in 35 U.S. cities. Some  tap-water samples showed hexavalent chromium concentrations higher than what the state of California had deemed safe.

In September 2010, an EPA draft toxicological review found that chromium (VI) in tap water is “likely to be carcinogenic to humans.” More than a year ago, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson announced that “it is likely that EPA will tighten drinking water standards to address the health risks posed by chromium VI,” . In December last year, the agency announced that the new rules would come soon.

Existing rules:
The EPA does not have a standard for chromium(VI), one of several chromium species found in the environment. Instead, it has a standard for total chromium, and most drinking water plants meets that one by a wide margin.

Expected regulation:
End of Februray the agency announced, that it had adopted a new Schedule for IRIS Hexavalent Chromium Assessment. Based on the recommendations of the external peer review panel, which met in May 2011 to review the draft IRIS assessment for hexavalent chromium (oral exposure only), EPA will consider the results of recently and soon to be completed peer-reviewed primary research on the chemical before finalizing the IRIS assessment. The review, which was originally scheduled to be completed in 2011, is the last step in a decade-long process to adopt a drinking water standard in the US for Cr(VI).
Now, the report won't go out for preliminary public comment and further peer review until next year at the earliest. The final decision is expected only by the end of 2015.

EPA officials wrote that a scientific peer review panel that studied the draft recommended the additional study and that the agency “takes seriously its commitment to rigorous independent expert peer review.”

Jason Rano, director of governmental affairs for the environmental group, expressed the concerns of the group by saying that "one of the things EPA is waiting for is an industry-funded study,” and further argued that there’s already sufficient evidence to support a national drinking-water standard for hexavalent chromium.

 Related Information

U.S. EPA: Recommendations for enhanced monitoring for Hexavalent Chromium in Drinking Water
 U.S. EPA: Basic Information about Chromium in Drinking Water
 U.S. EPA: Chromium in Drinking Water
 U.S. EPA: IRIS Toxicological Review of Hexavalent Chromium (External Review Draft)
 Environmental Working Group: Hexavalent Chromium
 Environmental Working Group: Chromium-6 in U.S. Tap Water
 Environmental Working Group: EWG Urges EPA: Protect Public from Chromium-6 in Tap Water
PSR ORG: EPA’s Blind Spot: Hexavalent Chromium in Coal Ash 

 Related EVISA Resources

 Link Database: Toxicity of hexavalent chromium (chromate)
 Link Database: Industrial Use of chromate
 Link Database: Occupational exposure of hexavalent chromium
 Link Database: Legislation for hexavalent chromium at the workplace
 Link Database: Methods for chromium speciation analysis

 Related EVISA News

December 27, 2011: EPA ruling on hexavalent chromium in water expected soon
October 7, 2010: US EPA offers chance to speak out against hexavalent chromium
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: April 11, 2012

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