By Ted AYALA
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a draft report that proposes maximum levels permitted of the chromium-6 in tap water.
Chromium-6, otherwise known as hexavalent chromium, is used in the manufacturing of stainless steel and textile dyes, among other uses. It’s also a carcinogenic toxin that carries the potential of increasing the risk for lung and kidney cancer.
The compound gained national notoriety in the mid-1990s via a massive lawsuit by advocate Erin Brockovich on behalf of the residents of Hinkley, a small town north of Victorville. The lawsuit was brought against Pacific Gas & Electric, whose unlined ponds in their cooling towers allowed vast amounts of water rich in the compound to spread into the Mojave Desert town’s groundwater. Their lawsuit ultimately proved successful and the case was later dramatized on film.
Though Hinkley is the most famous example of problems with public groundwater and the threat from chromium-6 contamination, theirs isn’t an isolated case.
The maximum amount of chromium-6 proposed by the CDPH’s report is 0.010 milligrams per liter, or 10 parts per billion –about the equivalent of one drop of water in an Olympic-sized swimming pool. The current standards are 50 micrograms per liter.
In a press release issued by the city last week, Mayor Dave Weaver praised Glendale Water & Power’s initiatives and use of the best available technologies over the past decade to ensure the safety of its groundwater.
“Glendale is proud to be a leader in this area that has assisted the CDPH and others,” he said. “Because of our leadership, I am especially proud to know that our water is the best in the west.”
The GWP is currently applying cutting-edge technology to keep the chromium-6 levels of the city’s groundwater well below the CDHP’s maximum threshold.
The state has opened a 45-day public comment period on its report effective last week. Residents from across the state are encouraged to contact the CDPH with feedback. Two public hearings on the report will also be held. The Southern California hearing is scheduled for Oct. 10 in Los Angeles.
Public comments must include the following: name or company name if applicable, and contact information consisting of a street address and an email address. Written comments may be sent to California Department of Public Health, Office of Regulations and Hearings, MS 0507, P.O. Box 997377, Sacramento, CA 95899-7377. Email comments may be sent to email@example.com.
For more information, please visit www.cdph.ca.gov/certlic/drinkingwater/Pages/Chromium6.aspx.