[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today commended the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for taking swift action to provide communities cited in the Environmental Working Group study on chromium-6 in tap water with assistance for additional testing. Earlier today the EPA announced a series of actions that the agency will take over the coming days to address chromium-6 in our drinking water. This announcement follows a meeting in Durbin’s Washington, DC, office between Administrator Lisa Jackson and ten U.S. Senators including Durbin and Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL).
“Yesterday, Senator Kirk and I asked the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to work with the U.S. EPA and communities that rely on Lake Michigan for their drinking water to test for chromium-6,” said Durbin. “With its announcement today, EPA is proving a ready and willing partner in this effort. I thank Administrator Jackson for meeting with us yesterday and for quickly putting forward a plan to create awareness and ensure our drinking water is safe.”
Following their meeting with Jackson, Durbin and Kirk sent a letter to the Director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Doug Scott, asking the agency to work with the U.S. EPA to step up testing of drinking water for the presence of chromium-6.
The meeting came in response to a December 20th article in the Chicago Tribune that referenced a study by the Environmental Working Group which found the amount of Chromium-6 in treated drinking to be 0.18 parts per billion, three times higher than a safety limit proposed by the state of California last year. The levels reported register well below the 100 parts per billion federal limit for total chromium in tap water, but mounting evidence suggests that chromium-6 ingestion may be harmful to human health.
Today the EPA announced that it will take the following actions in response to the Environmental Working Group’s study and yesterday’s meeting:
- While provocative, the EWG report is a self-described “snapshot” in time and does not provide a full, long-term picture of the prevalence of chromium-6 in our drinking water. EPA will work with state and local officials to better determine how wide-spread and prevalent this contaminant is.
- Meanwhile, EPA will issue guidance to all water systems on how to test for and sample drinking water specifically for chromium-6. This guidance will provide EPA-approved methods and other technical information.
- EPA will also offer technical expertise and assistance to the communities cited in the EWG study with the highest levels of chromium. This assistance will include providing technical experts to work with water system operators and engineers to ensure the latest testing and monitoring is being utilized.
- Once EPA’s chromium-6 risk assessment is finalized, EPA will work quickly to determine if new standards need to be set. Based on the current draft assessment, which has yet to undergo scientific peer review, it is likely that EPA will tighten drinking water standards to address the health risks posed by chromium-6.