The California cities of Glendale, Burbank, Los Angeles and San Fernando are getting together to study chromium 6 with the hope of developing treatment technologies for removing the toxic chemical down to trace levels.
The study could ultimately cost as much as $10 million. Initially, they plan to apply for a $400,000 study sponsored by the Denver-based American Water Works Association Research Foundation (AWWARF). Los Angeles would contribute $100,000; Glendale, $65,000; Burbank, $25,000; San Fernando, $10,000; and the foundation would match that with $200,000.
This chromium 6 proposal is expected to be considered by AWWARF during the AWWA's annual conference in Washington, June 17-21.
In addition, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Glendale) has secured a $3 million commitment from the National Toxicology Program (NTP) to conduct a cancer study of chromium 6 in his congressional district. If approved, the AWWARF study could begin this fall, the same time as the NTP study is set to commence.
On the state level, Sen. Jack Scott (D-Altadena) has introduced legislation, SB460, as part of this year's budget to allocate $15 million to the state Department of Health Services for research on chromium 6 reduction to bolster the AWWARF study.
The issue of chromium 6 has heightened in Glendale because high levels were found to be coming out of the city's Superfund treatment plant. The site currently removes industrial solvents, but not heavy metals such as chromium 6 from the groundwater that, once treated, is blended with Glendale's drinking water. Chromium 6 is a proven carcinogen when inhaled, but there is debate within the scientific community whether it causes cancer when ingested.
In other chromium 6 activities, students at Newberry Elementary School near Barstow in the Mojave Desert will be drinking bottled water until California health regulators set a standard for chromium 6 in drinking water. The Silver Valley Unified School District will supply the water unless a cost-effective way is found to extract chromium 6 from the well water at the school.
Earlier this year, tests showed the school's water contained 16 parts per billion of chromium 6. Currently the state's guidelines permit 50 parts per billion in water. The state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment suggests a total level of only 2.5 parts per billion as a goal to ensure drinking water is healthy.