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11 Burbank Sites Test Higher for Chromium 6

Health: Readings for the suspected carcinogen at the public facilities tested show levels more than 45 times that suggested by the state. Officials say no threat is posed.

November 08, 2000|ANDREW BLANKSTEIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

BURBANK — Tests of tap water at 11 public facilities in Burbank--including fire stations, libraries and schools--showed levels of chromium 6 at up to 9 parts per billion, more than 45 times the level suggested by a state agency, according to a study released Tuesday.

The tests recorded the highest level of the suspected carcinogen--9 parts per billion--at William McKinley Elementary School, Burbank High School and the city's Main Library.

Other readings ranged between 3 and 5 parts per billion.

State health officials say those levels do not pose a threat, but experts are divided over acceptable limits of chromium 6 in water. Chromium 6 is suspected of causing cancer and other illnesses.

The chromium 6 levels in Burbank were slightly higher than tap water tests taken by the Los Angeles County Toxicology Bureau at 110 government county facilities. The county tests recorded the highest level of chromium 6--at 7.84 ppb--at the county Health Center in Burbank at 1101 W. Magnolia Blvd.

The Burbank City Council will review the results before determining what if any steps to take, Councilwoman Stacey Murphy said.

"This shows it's a good thing we tested," Murphy said. "But we are just at the beginning. We are going to have to work as diligently as possible to solve the problem."

The state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment has recommended a public health goal of 2.5 ppb for total chromium, which officials say would limit chromium 6 to 0.2 ppb.

That recommendation is under study by the state Department of Health Services, which has said it could take five years to adopt because of the need to review the proposal and its impact.

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After The Times reported on delays in acting on the recommendation, Burbank and other local governments moved to conduct their own tests.

Fred Lantz, Burbank Water and Power assistant general manager, noted that in most cases chromium 6 levels registered higher than those for total chromium. He could not immediately explain the reason for this, but said the methods of testing for chromium 6 vary among laboratories.

Decades of operation by defense contractors have made the east San Fernando Valley a hot zone for chemical contamination. Parts of Burbank, Glendale and North Hollywood were declared a federal Superfund cleanup site in 1986.

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