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EPA ruling on hexavalent chromium in water expected soon


Chromium is a metallic element found in rocks, soil, plants and animals. It can be used in making steel, metal plating, leather tanning and in wood preservatives, to name only few. Its hexavalent species (Chromium VI) is toxic and is considered to be a carcinogen. Chromium (VI)  became infamous in 2000 with the release of “Erin Brockovich,” which starred Julia Roberts as the title character. The film was set in Hinkley, Calif., depicting people being sickened by chromium (VI) in the water.

New EPA ruling ?
About 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,” according to the agency's website. Today, Municipalities and residents depending on wells to supply all or part of their water needs still have no answer from a federal agency about whether stricter guidelines will be put in place governing chromium VI in drinking water.

Cathy Milbourn, an agency spokeswoman, offered few details about when drinking water standards could potentially tighten up, saying only that a decision should be reached in 2012. The agency's website shows that a final ruling is due in January, but Milbourn wouldn't provide an exact date for the decision.

Documents available online show that studies released in 2008 by the National Toxicology Program are the genesis of Jackson's announcement in December 2010.

Hexavalent Chromium in U.S. Drinking Water:
But the announcement from the agency came on the heels of a study released Dec. 19, 2010 by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which had tested drinking water in 35 U.S. cities for the contaminant.

According to EWG, Norman's drinking water showed the highest levels of chromium (VI) at nearly 13 parts per billion. Most city officials say that chromium (VI) in local water supplies is so low it is almost undetectable. But cities still could be affected by the EPA ruling depending on the acceptable limit value for Cr(VI).

Related Information

U.S. EPA: Statement from EPA Administrator Jackson regarding her meeting with 10 U.S. senators on Chromium-6
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

 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 (newest first)

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: May 17, 2024


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