Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) continued his campaign to establish limits on Chromium 6 in drinking water by introducing the Protecting Pregnant Women and Children From Hexavalent Chromium Act. The bill would establish a deadline for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set an enforceable drinking water safeguard for Chromium 6. Schiff’s legislation is the House companion bill to S. 79 introduced by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA).
Hexavalent chromium can present a dangerous cancer risk in drinking water especially in young children. Schiff recently called on EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson to complete that agency’s Chromium 6 toxicology assessment without further delay. In the absence of EPA action, local water agencies may not take the steps necessary to protect millions of children and families across the country from the harmful effects of Chromium 6.
“We need to light a fire under the federal and state government to finally take action on Chromium 6,” said Schiff. “The National Institute of Health’s National Toxicology Program study — considered the gold standard — established many years ago that Chromium 6 was hazardous, harmful and carcinogenic. And yet, the problem has still to be addressed.
“This legislation will require the EPA to establish a national standard for Chromium 6 in a timely manner, and protect local communities from this dangerous carcinogen. It’s time to take a major step forward and ensure that children and families in California and across the country have access to safe drinking water.”
In 2001, Rep. Schiff spearheaded an effort to commission the study by the National Toxicology Program. The study found that high doses of Chromium 6 in drinking water cause cancer in lab rodents. The link between Chromium 6 and cancer garnered national attention after the release of the movie “Erin Brockovich” in 2000. Congressman Schiff has long worked to keep Chromium 6 out of drinking water, dating back to his work in the California State Senate.
As a State Senator, he sponsored a bill requiring the California Department of Health Services to prepare a report on the amount of Chromium 6 in the San Fernando Valley aquifer and the danger it poses to residents. Additionally, Rep. Schiff has secured more than a million and a half dollars to develop technology capable of removing heavy metals such as Chromium 6 from drinking water in Glendale. Last month, Schiff also called on California Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) Director Ron Chapman to move quickly to establish a Maximum Containment Level (MCL) for Chromium 6.
Before treatment, underground water from some local Los Angeles County wells contains between 45 and 70 parts per billion of Chromium 6. It was also recently announced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency planned to install 30 wells in the Glendale-Burbank area this month to monitor levels of Chromium 6 in underground water.
Schiff’s legislation would require the EPA to set a health advisory for the chemical 90 days after the bill becomes law that is protective of pregnant women, infants, and children, and provides an adequate margin of safety. It would also require the EPA to set a federal drinking water standard within 12 months. There is currently a federal drinking water standard of 100 parts per billion of total chromium — which contains both harmful chromium 6 and less dangerous chromium 3 — but currently there is no state or national drinking water standard for chromium 6.