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4 Lawmakers to Seek Chromium 'Action Level'

November 28, 2000

BURBANK — Four state lawmakers have scheduled a press conference for today to urge the state Department of Health Services to issue an "action level" for informing the public when total chromium reaches certain levels in drinking water supplies.

The lawmakers want water utilities to give public notice when total chromium levels reach 2.5 parts per billion. The current state levels are 50 ppb, but the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment has proposed lowering it to 2.5 ppb.

"The action level sends a message that the state believes there are potentially serious health risks associated with heightened levels of chromium 6," said state Sen. Adam Schiff, who will be sworn in to the House of Representatives Jan. 3.

In addition to Schiff, the proposal is backed by state Sens. Deborah Oritz (D-Sacramento) and Tom Hayden (D-Los Angeles) and Assemblyman Jack Scott (D-Altadena), who has been elected to the state Senate.

The state sets levels for total chromium as a means of ensuring low levels of chromium 6, a toxic byproduct suspected of causing cancer and other illnesses. In a recent survey of wells in North Los Angeles County, all 44 wells tested exceeded 2.5 ppb of total chromium.

David Spath, drinking-water chief for the state Department of Health Services, disputed the need to set an action level for total chromium at 2.5 ppb.

"Right now, water systems should follow the 50 parts per billion maximum contaminant level for chromium and be monitoring chromium 6," Spath said. "But it's not an acute health risk by any means."

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