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California regulators set historic limit on chromium-6 in drinking water

  • California regulators set historic limit on chromium-6 in drinking water

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California regulators voted on Wednesday to impose a drinking water standard on hexavalent chromium, a toxic compound famously depicted in the film "Erin Brockovich," marking the nation's first targeted effort against this hazardous heavy metal, reports AP news.

The regulation, aimed at curbing the prevalence of the heavy metal, known as chromium-6, is anticipated to significantly decrease the incidence of cancer and kidney diseases resulting from prolonged consumption, state officials assert.

The proposal was unanimously passed by the State Water Resources Control Board, though it needs approval from the Office of Administrative Law to take effect.

The water board set a maximum contaminant level, or MCL, of 10 parts per billion, or ppb, for the chemical, a toxic industrial byproduct.

This groundbreaking standard could serve as a model for other states. Currently, more than 35 million people in California are exposed to chromium-6 at levels above 0.02 ppb in their drinking water, says the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit research and advocacy organization.

However, concerns persist among community members and health advocates regarding the adequacy of California's limit in safeguarding public health against chromium exposure. Many, including EWG, advocate for the adoption of a drinking water standard closer to the public health goal of 0.02 parts per billion, a threshold scientists argue poses minimal health risks.

EWG Senior Scientist Tasha Stoiber, said: “As the water board’s own scientists have acknowledged, a legal limit of 10 ppb in tap water is far too high to protect people from the devastating effects of chronic chromium-6 exposure.”

“This really leaves a lot of California communities unprotected from that really potent carcinogen,” added Tasha Stoiber.

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