California Sets First Public Health Goal for Hexavalent Chromium

Aug. 12, 2011
Goal provides scientific guidance, which determines maximum contaminant levels for drinking water
Goal provides scientific guidance, which determines maximum contaminant levels for drinking water

California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) established a public health goal (PHG) for hexavalent chromium at 0.02 mg/L on July 28. The nation’s first PHG for the contaminant will provide scientific guidance to the California Department of Health (CDH), which ultimately determines maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for California drinking water.

CDH is required by law to implement MCLs that are as close to PHGs as economically and technically feasible. OEHHA anticipates that California will eventually become the first state to establish a regulatory standard for hexavalent chromium, also called chromium-6, for drinking water but will take several years.

OEHHA said the PHG for chromium-6 is not a maximum safe level for exposure to the chemical but rather an estimated one in 1 million lifetime cancer risk level. California based its PHG for chromium-6 on a study published by the National Toxicology Program in 2007.

The state published the final technical support document for chromium-6 in drinking water online July 27, along with a press release, fact sheet, and comments from hearings and public review over the past two years.

No federal MCL has been set specifically for chromium-6, but the federal MCL of 0.1 mg/L for total chromium includes it. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued a recommendation for enhanced monitoring for chromium-6 and is expected to finalize a revised toxicological review soon.

The American Water Works Assn. filed comments with the EPA, urging them to include forthcoming health effects research in that risk assessment. The new research is being conducted by 12 institutions and coordinated by ToxStrategies with funding by the American Chemistry Council and is nearing completion.

Source: American Water Works Assn.

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