Issue Date: August 20, 2012
California Faces Chromium(VI) Lawsuit
Two environmental advocacy groups—the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Working Group (EWG)—have sued California’s Department of Public Health for not setting a safety limit for hexavalent chromium in drinking water. California enacted legislation in 2001 requiring the state to set a safe drinking water limit for the cancer-causing chemical by 2004. Last year, California officials determined that Cr(VI) levels of less than 0.02 ppb in drinking water would not pose a significant health risk. The state expects to take several more years, however, to finalize an official drinking water standard for the pollutant. Currently, no federal or state limits exist for Cr(VI) in drinking water. Hexavalent chromium is widely used in industrial processes, including steelmaking and textile manufacturing. The metal occurs naturally in groundwater, but an analysis by EWG in 2010 shows that large industrial discharges have contaminated groundwater supplies throughout California and many other U.S. states.
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