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USA Contaminated drinking water news:
NRDC, EWG Sue to protect millions of Californians from contaminated drinking water. An estimated 31 million people exposed to cancer-causing “Erin Brockovich” chemical.
An Environmental Working Group analysis of official records from the California Department of Public Health’s water quality testing conducted between 2000 and 2011 revealed that about one-third of the more than 7,000 drinking water sources sampled were contaminated with hexavalent chromium at levels that exceed safe limits. These water sources are spread throughout 52 of 58 counties, impacting an estimated 31 million Californians.
In 2001, the California State Legislature mandated the agency adopt a standard by January 1, 2004, giving it two years to do so. Eight years past its legal deadline, the agency still hasn’t made any visible progress and says it could take several more years before a final standard is completed. Filed in the California Superior Court of Alameda, NRDC and EWG’s suit contends the department’s delay is unjustified and it must rapidly proceed to finalize the standard.
“Communities all over California and the U.S. are being poisoned by this dangerous chemical,” said Erin Brockovich, an environmental and consumer advocate. “We have waited long enough and the people of California should not continue to be exposed to unsafe levels of this toxin in their tap water. The California Department of Public Health needs to do its job and adopt a strong standard for hexavalent chromium in drinking water.”
Drinking water sources in Sacramento, San Jose, Los Angeles and Riverside were found to exceed the safe limits of hexavalent chromium, according to a 2010 Environmental Working Group report that tested 25 U.S. cities’ tap water for hexavalent chromium contamination.
The report also found this threat isn’t limited to California. At least 74 million Americans in thousands of communities across 42 states drink tap water polluted with “total chromium,” which includes hexavalent and other forms of the metal.
Even though hexavalent chromium is known to cause cancer, reproductive harm and other severe health effects, there is no national or state drinking water standard for hexavalent chromium. Therefore, water agencies don’t have to comprehensively monitor for or remove hexavalent chromium before it comes out of the tap.
“You’d think the state of California would have moved quickly to protect its citizens from this carcinogen, which, sadly, still flows from the taps of millions of residents,” Renee Sharp, a senior scientist and director of EWG’s California office said. “It’s absolutely unacceptable that at this minute countless children in California are likely drinking a glass of water laced with unsafe levels hexavalent chromium.”
The California EPA’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment announced a final “Public Health Goal” for hexavalent chromium in drinking water in July 2011, a preliminary step in creating a drinking water standard. The goal was set at 0.02 parts per billion, a level that does not pose a significant health risk to people.
While this goal has been set for more than a year, the department has not taken the necessary steps for setting a “Maximum Contaminant Level” – the maximum concentration of a chemical that is allowed in public drinking water systems – for hexavalent chromium.
The department’s plan to take several more years to finalize a rulemaking that is already eight years behind schedule is too long, especially since the agency could fall behind its own intended schedule, and industry pressure could delay the standard even more.
Communities adjacent to industrial facilities using hexavalent chromium or Superfund sites, such as low income communities like Hinkley and communities of color are among those most highly exposed to hexavalent chromium pollution. People can be exposed to hexavalent chromium by drinking contaminated water, eating contaminated food, by inhaling it, or by exposure to contaminated soils.
Hexavalent chromium usually enters the drinking water supply by running off from industrial operations into surface waters or leaching from soil into groundwater.
Hexavalent chromium is used for the production of stainless steel, textile dyes, wood preservation, leather tanning, and as an anti-corrosive as well as a variety of niche uses. Due to its wide use by industry, hexavalent chromium is a common pollutant found at contaminated sites and has been documented at approximately two-thirds of Superfund sites.
Read more about the health impacts of hexavalent chromium in a blog by Sarah Janssen, senior scientist in NRDC’s Public Health Program: http://bit.ly/Pn0FEU
Hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)) compounds are a group of chemical substances that contain the metallic element chromium in its positive-6 valence (hexavalent) state. Occupational exposures to Cr(VI) occur during the production of stainless steel, chromate chemicals, and chromate pigments. Cr(VI) exposures also occur during other work activities such as stainless steel welding, thermal cutting, and chrome plating.
NIOSH considers all Cr(VI) compounds to be potential occupational carcinogens. Occupational exposure to Cr(VI) compounds is associated with lung, nasal, and sinus cancer. Other respiratory effects include nasal irritation and ulceration, and perforation of the nasal septum and eardrum. Dermal exposure to Cr(VI) compounds can cause skin irritation, ulceration, sensitization, and allergic contact dermatitis.
The NIOSH draft document “NIOSH Criteria Document Update: Occupational Exposure to Hexavalent Chromium” provides a review of the scientific literature and an update of NIOSH policies on occupational exposure to hexavalent chromium compounds including an assessment of: (1) critical animal, human, and in vitro studies on occupational exposure to hexavalent chromium; (2) relevant quantitative risk assessments about occupational exposure to hexavalent chromium; (3) appropriate methods for sampling and analysis of hexavalent chromium compounds in the workplace; (4) basis for the NIOSH revised Recommended Exposure Limit for hexavalent chromium compounds; and (5) other NIOSH recommendations for protecting workers from occupational exposure to hexavalent chromium. The external review draft of the NIOSH document, public comments, and peer review comments received are available on the NIOSH Docket Office Number 144 Web page. The NIOSH draft document has been revised based on the comments received during the public review and peer review comment periods. It is being prepared for the final steps of the NIOSH review and clearance process prior to publication.
NIOSHTIC-2 search results on Hexavalent Chromium
NIOSHTIC-2 is a searchable bibliographic database of occupational safety and health publications, documents, grant reports, and journal articles supported in whole or in part by NIOSH.
Criteria for a recommended standard: Welding, brazing, and thermal cutting 
NIOSH Publication No. 88-110
Criteria for a Recommended Standard: Occupational Exposure to Chromium (VI) 
HEW (NIOSH) Publication No. 76-129
Criteria for a Recommended Standard: Occupational Exposure to Chromic Acid 
NIOSH Publication No. 73-11021
NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods (NMAM) (3rd Supplement)
NIOSH Publication No. 2003-154 (2003)
- NIOSH Method 7605 – Hexavalent Chromium by Ion Chromatography  [PDF - 102 KB]
- NIOSH Method 7703 – Hexavalent Chromium by Field-Portable Spectrophotometry  [PDF - 109 KB]
- NIOSH Method 9101 – Hexavalent Chromium in Settled Dust Samples  [PDF - 6 KB]
Ashley K, Applegate GT, Marcy AD, Drake PL, Pierce PA, Carabin N, Demange M . Evaluation of sequential extraction procedures for soluble and insoluble hexavalent chromium compounds in workplace air samples. J Environ Monit 11(2):318-325.
Ashley K, Howe AM, Demange M, Nygren O . Sampling and analysis considerations for the determination of hexavalent chromium in workplace air. J Environ Monit 5(5):707-716.
Blade LM, Yencken MS, Wallace ME, Catalano JD, Khan A, Topmiller JL, Shulman SA, Martinez A, Crouch KG, Bennett JS . Hexavalent chromium exposures and exposure-control technologies in American enterprise: results of a NIOSH field research study. J Occup Environ Hyg 4(8):596-618.
Boiano JM, Wallace ME, Sieber WK, Groff JH, Wang J, Ashley K . Comparison of three sampling and analytical methods for the determination of airborne hexavalent chromium. J Environ Monit 2(4):329-33.
Hazelwood KJ, Drake PL, Ashley K, Marcy D . Field method for the determination of insoluble or total hexavalent chromium in workplace air. J Occup Environ Hyg 1(9):613-619.
Keane M, Stone S, Chen B, Slaven J, Schwegler-Berry D, Antonini J . Hexavalent chromium content in stainless steel welding fumes is dependent on the welding process and shield gas type. J Environ Monit 11(2):418-424.
Park RM, Bena JF, Stayner LT, Smith RJ, Gibb HJ, Lees PSJ . Hexavalent chromium and lung cancer in the chromate industry: a quantitative risk assessment. Risk Anal 2004 24(5):1099-1108.
Park RM, Stayner LT . A search for thresholds and other nonlinearities in the relationship between hexavalent chromium and lung cancer. Risk Anal 26(1):79-88.
The Hazard Evaluations and Technical Assistance Branch (HETAB) of NIOSH conducts field investigations of possible health hazards in the workplace. HETAB has conducted many field investigations of potential occupational exposure to hexavalent chromium. For more information on the health hazard evaluation (HHE) program and to search for HHEs involving hexavalent chromium exposure link to: Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) home page.
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Water news archives. Table of contents – 200 articles – April~August 2012
Water contamination news:
Great Lakes – recovery starts on Lake Superior mystery barrels.
Alberta, Canada – Enbridge shuts large Canada-US pipeline after spill.
Pennsylvania, Allegheny County – Shenango Inc. settles air and water pollution violations with EPA.
Drinking water news:
80% of Hyderabad’s sewage dumped in lakes.
Hope – India’s quality drinking water supply – “bio-toilets”
Lake Huron – Impact of diesel spill on water, environment: ‘Time will tell’
No plans for Carroll Creek warning signs. News comes after chemicals were found in surface water.
Chemicals TCE – PCE – Chloroform
How does TCE affect your health? – High level of cancer-causing agent TCE in Fort Detrick drinking water supply.
Million year old groundwater in Maryland water supply.
USA High level of cancer-causing agent found at Fort Detrick in Frederick.
Tetrachloroethylene water contamination: Early life exposure to chemical in drinking water may affect vision.
Warning on bleach use for emergency water.
What is fracking? 5 Facts about fracking every family needs to know.
Pennsylvania aquifers – Possible contamination of drinking water from fracking operations.
Injection wells – Part 3 – An unseen link, then boom.
Injection wells – Part 2 – Polluted water fuels a battle for answers.
Injection wells – Part 1 – Whiff of phenol spells trouble.
USA fracking–Research- Disputes a fundamental industry claim.