Cracking Down on Chromium

California continues to set the tone for the nation when it comes to regulating water quality – last week, it became the first state in the U.S. to introduce a standard for hexavalent chromium, or chromium-6.

The California Department of Public Health (CPDH) currently only sets a limit on total chromium, which includes chromium-3, a required nutrient, and chromium-6, its potentially carcinogenic counterpart. CPDH’s maximum contaminant level (MCL) for total chromium is 50 ppb – already much lower than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s MCL of 100 ppb.

The new chromium-6 standard, which is currently just a proposed regulation and is open for public comment, sets the limit at 10 ppb.

This low limit has already prompted responses from water quality organizations, such as the California-Nevada (CA-NV) Section of the American Water Works Assn. (AWWA). The section pointed out in a press release that although it is dedicated to ensuring that the public receives clean, safe water, it is concerned about the effects that meeting this standard will have on already stressed small public drinking water systems. This is especially poignant in the state of California, where it was reported earlier this year that $455 million in federal safe drinking water funds – money that could have been used to help small systems – was left unused.

According to the CA-NV Section of AWWA’s press release, recent research “suggests that chromium-6 at low levels is far less of a health risk” – which will certainly provoke debate on whether or not this proposed standard sets the proper limit.

What are your thoughts on California’s proposed chromium-6 MCL? How do you think this legislation will influence other states across the U.S.? Let us know in the comments, or e-mail us at [email protected].

The pressure is on – there is only one more day to submit your entry for Water Quality Product’s Top Projects awards. The online nomination form will be available through Friday, Aug. 30.