Mar 12, 2001

Report Says 'There's No Proven Treatment for Chromium 6 Reduction at Required Levels'

The Los Angeles Times reported that a draft report completed by Maguire Environmental Consulting, Inc. states that there is "no proven treatment for reducing the suspected carcinogen to the trace levels recommended by a statehealth agency for optimum safety."

Additional research including testing water treatment systems for reduction levels of chromium 6 would be required before additional treatment facilities could be constructed. An estimated hundreds of thousands of dollars would be needed from cities including Los Angeles, Glendale, Burbank and San Fernando.

The existing standard calls for 50 ppb, which currently is being met. However, the state Office of Environmental Health Hazards Assessment called for slashing the chromium standard in drinking water from the current 50 ppb to 2.5 ppb, which assumes a chromium 6 level of 0.2 ppb. There is no separate standard for chromium 6.

Officials in these cities are taking a look at how they would be able to follow the proposed standard should it come into effect. The report itself will be utilized by these cities in deciding whether or not more treatment plants will be needed to meet proposed standards, which will cost millions of dollars.

Lawmakers are considering legislation to force the state Department of Health Services to reconsider its current standard for chromium and develop a separate one for chromium 6, reported The Los Angeles Times.

As of yet, chromium 6 has not been listed as a carcinogen, because evidence has been inconclusive. The San Fernando Valley acquifer has reported chromium 6 levels as high as 30 ppb.

Legislation has been introduced to provide $15 million to the state Department of Health Services for research and the development of technology for chromium 6 reduction.

Reliable methods for testing are also greatly needed to track levels as low as 0.2 ppb. The most common methods of treatment are ion exchange and reverse osmosis.

Dr. David Spath, drinking-water chief for Health Services, said the state has "not yet begun those evaluations." Evaluations of chromium 6 contamination in drikning water supplies will be researched further and the state is expected to make decisions on levels of chromium or just chromium six in the next year or two.