Water Organizations Urge Inclusion of New Research in Regulatory Assessment

July 29, 2011
Numerous associations push for forthcoming research on hexavalent chromium to appear in report

The American Water Works Assn. (AWWA) and three other water organizations are urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to include forthcoming health effects research in the ongoing risk assessment for hexavalent chromium.

“We appreciate the need for timely decision making and also believe that critical decisions should be informed by the best information available,” the organizations said in a July 25 letter to the EPA. AWWA, the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, the National Assn. of Water Companies and the National Rural Water Assn. signed the letter.

EPA is currently evaluating hexavalent chromium through its Integrated Risk Information System. The process informs decisions about whether to move forward on regulations under the Safe Drinking Water Act. A draft toxicological review of hexavalent chromium is expected for completion in the fall of 2011.

The letter points out that in May the majority of members of an external peer-review panel recommended inclusion of research coordinated by ToxStrategies, conducted by 12 institutions and funded by the American Chemistry Council.

The panel members found the “research is of high quality and important in helping to bridge widely acknowledged gaps in the available science,” the letter read. “In particular, it will inform the toxicology of low-dose exposures and the ability of the digestive system to reduce Cr(VI) to Cr(III).” Cr(III) has a relatively low toxicity and would only be a health threat at very high levels of contamination.

The water associations stressed that including the research would not significantly set back the IRIS process schedule and may prevent costly delays should EPA move forward with a new drinking water standard.

Source: American Water Works Assn.