California seeks to slash chromium-6 in tap water

California, often an environmental trendsetter, is proposing a strict public health goal to reduce chromium-6, a probable carcinogen, in tap water following a recent report about its prevalence in 31 U.S. cities.

The state, which proposed an initial goal in late 2009, issued a draft version last week of a much stricter voluntary standard for the chemical that was made famous in the 2000 Hollywood movie Erin Brockovich. It’s now seeking public comment before finalizing its goal.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is considering whether to set a limit for chromium-6, also known as hexavalent chromium, in tap water. In 2007, the National Institutes of Health reported strong evidence that the chemical caused cancer in laboratory animals when consumed in drinking water.

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Probable Carcinogen Found in Tap Water of 31 U.S. Cities

In 25 of 35 U.S. cities where tap water supplies were tested for hexavalent chromium — deemed likely to cause cancer in humans in a U.S. EPA draft review this year — levels of the chemical exceeded the minimum set by the state of California to protect public health, according to a report released today by an environmental group.

The Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) new findings mark a public flare-up in the behind-the-scenes battle over estimating the carcinogenicity of oral exposure to hexavalent chromium, also referred to as chromium-6. The draft EPA assessment released in September could pave the way for a national drinking-water standard for the chemical, best known for polluting groundwater in Hinkley, Calif., where activist Erin Brockovich won a multimillion-dollar settlement for locals and became a household name.

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Perchlorate in drinking water more detrimental to infants than expected: study

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 11 (Xinhua) — Infants who drink water containing low levels of the chemical perchlorate face a greater health risk than previously believed, a new study suggests.

In the study, researchers looked at ground drinking water slightly contaminated with perchlorate in several cities in Southern California, the Press Enterprise said Saturday.

The study shows that infants who drank water slightly contaminated with perchlorate had a 50-percent chance of developing poorly performing thyroid glands, the paper said, quoting Dr. Craig Steinmaus from California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) and lead author of the study.

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Proposed rules seek to clear agricultural pollutants from waterways; study says Central Coast water most toxic in state

Aiming to clean up some of the most toxic water in California, regional water quality officials are considering new rules to control polluting runoff from agricultural fields.

Growers say the regulations are too burdensome, and countered last week with a proposal to have an industry-backed coalition tackle water quality problems.

Environmentalists say neither plan does enough to protect water supplies.

After more than two years in development, the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Board will consider adopting the new regulations in March.

Executive Officer Roger Briggs said board staff sought to create a plan that would be practical and hold people accountable.

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Hinkley chromium clean-up could take more than a century

HINKLEY • The Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board will be deciding soon if an expansion to the treatment of the chromium 6 water plume in Hinkley will be put into place, but residents probably won’t see the results in their lifetimes.

Pacific Gas and Electric is proposing to expand its current operation of injecting the chromium 6 tainted water with ethanol to convert it to the less dangerous chromium 3. In a feasibility study done by the water board, the ethanol treatment would probably take about 150 years to restore chromium 6 levels to the naturally occurring levels of 3.1 parts per billion.

The feasibility study done by the water board shows that the removal of the chromium 6 tainted groundwater will take more than 100 years, even with the most effective treatment.

PG&E is currently injecting ethanol into the plume in order to convert the chromium 6 into chromium 3, which is much less toxic. The company pumps contaminated water out and sprays it onto alfalfa plants so that it will not be spread through the air. PG&E also injects clean water as part of the program to cleanse the groundwater.

The expanded program will include increased pumping and will occur over a larger area, said Lauri Kemper, assistant executive officer for the Lahontan water board.

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State of Emergency Declared in California



Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declares a state of emergency in one California County after contaminated tap water was found.The residents of San Bernardino County were warned late last week not to drink the tap water.This was after the city of Barstow’s water supply showed traces of a toxic chemical used to make rocket fuel and explosives…Residents were told boiling the water would *not* help in reducing the chemical level in the water.Instead they were urged to take advantage of the free water bottles that were being distributed..Golden state water company is investigating the source of the contamination.

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