California First State To Propose Safe Drinking Water To Reduce Cancer Risk
The state Department of Public Health announced Thursday that it submitted the “first-in-the-nation” drinking water standard for hexavalent chromium (chromium-6) to the Office of Administrative Law. Public comments will begin Friday, after the proposal is published to the website.
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“California is the first and only state in the nation to establish a maximum contaminant level specifically for chromium-6 in drinking water,” said Dr. Ron Chapman, Public Health Department director. “Establishing this new MCL underscores California’s commitment to safe drinking water standards to protect the public health.”
The maximum contaminant level for chromium-6 in drinking water was set at 10 parts per billion (ppb). The present standard is five times more than this at 50 ppb. Trivalent chromium (chromium-3) is also combined in the chemical compound in the drinking water, but is less toxic and not considered a health hazard. The federal MCL is 100 ppb for total chromium.
California became the first state in the nation to require a MCL for chromium-6 more than 10 years ago. A MCL will be set close to the public health goal as economically and technologically practical. In 2011, the PCG was established at .06 ppb.
Chromium-6 is hazardous because the National Toxicology Center has determined that this heavy metal can cause cancer when ingested.
The toxic metal naturally occurs and also has contaminated drinking water from industrial use in the past, according to the Department of Public Health.
Water samples have shown that many cities in California contain levels of the toxic metal in drinking water higher than the current standard. The Environmental Protection Agency confirmed that “inhaled chromium is a human carcinogen, resulting in an increased risk of lung cancer.”
In order for the public water systems to comply with this new standard, the cost of maintenance is at least $156 million annually.
The Environmental Working Group shows the top 25 cities with chromium-6 levels exceeding the California safe limit. Riverside, California was the third highest of those cities at 1.69 ppb.
The Office of Administrative Law will begin the discussion process by posting the regulations. The proposed regulations will be available on the department’s website and are posted on the OAL website. The Public Health Department encourages written comments. They will be accepted starting Friday at 12 p.m. They will also hold meetings to receive public comment. The final maximum contaminant level will be adopted following the public review and comment process, which may not happen until 2015. The MCL will be reviewed every five years.
To learn more, visit the state Department of Public Health’s website, here.
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