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OEHHA works to set drinking water standard for hexavalent chromium--could be first in nation to do so
Back in the 90s, Erin Brockovich helped bring the issue of hexavalent chromium--a cancer-causing chemical--in California’s drinking water to light. In 2000, actress Julia Roberts portraying Erin Brockovich in the popular movie helped propel the issue even further.
As many recall, Brockovich’s achievements centered around her involvement in a direct action lawsuit against the Pacific Gas and Electric Company, which resulted in the largest toxic tort injury settlement in the U.S.: $333 million to the residents of Hinkley, the town affected by the chemical’s leak into groundwater, as the Environmental News Service reported.
The issue is once again in the spotlight as California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has proposed a public health goal about the chemical in drinking water, according to the Environmental News Service. Creating a drinking water standard for hexavalent chromium would make California the first state in the nation to do so, the report said.
Hexavalent chromium also is known as Chromium 6, a potent carcinogen when inhaled, according to OEHHA, as the Environmental News Service reports.
California environmental advocates spoke out about this ever-present issue.
"I passed the law to set a safe drinking water standard for hex chrome by 2004,” said Deborah Ortiz, former California state senator and author of a bill to establish a drinking water standard for hexavalent chromium, in the Environmental News Service report. “Five years later, Californians continue to be exposed to unsafe levels of hex chrome in drinking water. Communities across California have the right to a safe public health goal and we ask the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment to honor that law."
Erin Brockovich also commented on the public health goal, according to the Environmental News Service.
"Hex chrome is a serious problem and one that I'm glad to see being addressed,” she said in the Environmental News Service report. “California has always led the way in setting standards that other states indeed follow. We need to create more awareness and make prevention the goal to protect people.
"Hex chrome is a widespread problem and not just limited to California nor to the community of Hinkley, as featured in the film; but communities all over the country have been poisoned by hex chrome.”