Senate Bill 79: the Protecting Pregnant Women and Children from Hexavalent Chromium Act of 2011


What do you think of when you take a drink of fresh, cool tap water?  Chromium-6 probably doesn’t jump to your mind; however, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found this suspected carcinogen in 31 of the 35 cities’ tap water they tested.  Senators Feinstein and Boxer have responded by introducing Senate Bill 79, the Protecting Pregnant Women and Children from Hexavalent Chromium Act of 2011.

EWG’s groundbreaking tap water tests caught media attention in December 2010 when it found the rocket fuel ingredient perchlorate in city tap water, as well as in infant formula.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) responded this month by announcing it would regulate this thyroid toxin in addition to the other 90 drinking water contaminants it currently monitors.  With rocket fuel in our water, it’s no wonder so many individual suffer from hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.  Now, EWG and the California senators are taking on chromium-6.

The text of S. 79 provided the following historical timeline:

(5) in 2008, the National Toxicology Program of the Department of Health and Human Services concluded that Chrome 6 in drinking water shows `clear evidence’ of cancer-causing activity in laboratory animals;

(6) a 2010 draft toxicological review of Chrome 6 by the Environmental Protection Agency found that the contaminant in tap water is `likely to be carcinogenic to humans’ and cited significant cancer concerns and other health effects from animal studies, including anemia and damage to the gastrointestinal tract, lymph nodes, and liver;

(7) nearly 2 decades before the date of enactment of this Act, in 1991, the Environmental Protection Agency established a tap water standard for total chromium at 100 parts per billion;

(8) in 2009, the State of California proposed a public health goal of 0.06 parts per billion for Chrome 6 in drinking water, which is almost 1,700 times lower than the standard for total chromium established by the Environmental Protection Agency;

(9) in 2010, the State of California proposed a public health goal of 0.02 parts per billion for Chrome 6 in drinking water and stated that `new research has documented that young children and other sensitive populations are more susceptible than the general population to health risks from exposure to carcinogens’;

Pregnant women and children are included in the name of the bill, as the regulations needed to protect this most sensitive population is much more minute than for healthy adults.  This is the same chemical Erin Brockovich helped residents of Hinkley, California fight Pacific, Gas, & Electric for contaminating their drinking water.

The EWG’s tap water test results have been confirmed by four municipal water utilities.  The cities of Honolulu, Madison, Milwaukee, and Bend found chromium-6 levels between 0.19 to 4.00 parts per billion in their own tests. In Brockovich’s case, levels of chromium-6 in Hinkley ranged from 1.19 to of 3.09 ppb, with levels at the nearby P,G, & E plant reaching 31.8 ppb.

Even considering all of the scary toxins in tap water, it is still safer and better for your health and the environment than bottled water.  Although the EPA’s job is to protect Americans from dangerous drinking water contaminants like chromium-6, your best protection is to install a water filter, like a reverse osmosis filter, in your home that will remove this toxin.

Written by Jennifer Lance

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