OEHS NEWS ; GOVERNMENT NEWS ; INDUSTRY NEWS
Hexavalent Chromium Pollutes Tap Water for Millions,
At least 74 million Americans are drinking water polluted with
hexavalent chromium, according to a study released in December by an independent environmental organization. The nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) found hexavalent
chromium in water supplies for 31 out of 35 cities tested. In 25
cities, levels of hexavalent chromium in tap water exceeded the
state of California’s proposed limit of 0.06 ppb. At 12. 9 ppb, the
water in Norman, Okla., contained more than 200 times California’s proposed limit.
Following the release of the EWG study, EPA announced
plans to help state and local water systems develop monitoring
and sampling programs for the toxic chemical. According to an
agency press release, EPA will issue guidance on monitoring
and sampling to all water systems in the U.S. In addition, EPA
pledged “significant technical assistance” to the communities
whose tap water was found to have the highest concentrations
of hexavalent chromium.
EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson met with 10 U.S. Senators
on Dec. 21 to brief them on the agency’s risk assessment of hexa-
valent chromium and the agency’s response to the EWG study. In
a statement following the meeting, Jackson described the EWG
report as “informative” but noted that it “only provided a snap-
shot in time. EPA will work with local and state officials to get a
better picture of exactly how widespread this problem is.”
Jackson acknowledged that, as mentioned in the EWG study,
EPA’s test for chromium does not distinguish between the toxic
hexavalent and non-toxic trivalent forms of the chemical. EPA’s
limit for total chromium is 100 ppb. The agency assumes that
chromium samples are 100 percent hexavalent.
EPA’s draft toxicological review of hexavalent chromium,
which was released in September, is available from the agency’s
Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) at www.epa.gov/iris.
To read the EPA press release, visit www.epa.gov/newsroom.
More information about the EWG study is available from
OSHA Directive Requires Conventional Fall Protection
for Residential Construction
A new OSHA directive issued Dec. 22 requires residential builders to
provide fall protection for roofers that complies with the agency’s
construction standard. The directive replaces a 1995 directive that
allowed builders to use alternative protection methods if those
specified in the construction standard were not feasible.
Final EPA Data Show Reduction in 2009 Toxic Chemical
More than 3 billion pounds of toxic chemicals were released
into the environment in 2009 according to information available from EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), the agency
stated in a Dec. 17 press release. The TRI data include toxic
chemical disposals and releases into the air, land and water, as
well as on waste management and pollution prevention activities. The data comprise approximately 650 chemicals from more
than 20,000 facilities.
TRI data are submitted annually to EPA and states by multiple industry sectors including manufacturing, metal mining,
electric utilities, and commercial hazardous waste facilities.
Overall, the total amount of toxic chemical releases in 2009—
3. 37 billion pounds—represents a 12 percent decrease from
2008. Since 2008, releases to air have decreased 20 percent;
releases to surface water decreased 18 percent; and releases to
land decreased 4 percent. TRI data show decreases in the releases of persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic chemicals including lead, dioxin, and mercury.
The number of facilities reporting to TRI from the previous
year also decreased 7 percent. EPA attributes some of the decline
to the economic downturn and plans to investigate why some
to read more industry news.