Lead and chromium in drinking water

21 Dec 2010

Everyone knows that consuming lead is bad for you and Congress is trying to do something about it.  Many years after addressing lead paint, Congress has now sent legislation to President Obama which would ratchet down federal standards for levels of lead allowed in plumbing fixtures that carry drinking water, with allowable lead content going from the current federal level of as much as 8 percent to 0.25 percent. It limits the amount of lead that can leach from plumbing into drinking water. The legislation will not impose these requirements for 36 months.

On the other hand, a new issue with drinking has come to light as an environmental group released a report of its study of hexavalent chromium (or chromium-6) in drinking water nationwide.  EPA has published a draft finding that chromium-6 is a likely carcinogen but has not yet published a limit on it in drinking water.  Hexavalent chromium was one of the compounds that was the focus of the lawsuit made famous by the movie “Erin Brockovich.”  California has proposed a limit of 0.06 parts per billion (ppb) in drinking water.  The only City’s water tested by the group was Ann Arbor’s which tested at 0.21 ppb – slightly above the average of 0.18 ppb of the 35 cities’ water tested. Will hexavalent chromium become the next targeted compound?  I suspect it will.

Leave a Comment to “Lead and chromium in drinking water”

  1. Christina Putney 24. Dec, 2010 at 9:28 pm #

    The lead in old, chipping, peeling paint is even more hazardous to a young child’s developing brain that than in water. It seems that not that much is being done to prevent
    lead poisoning in this regard. In Flint, there are hundreds upon hundreds of old houses, mostly rentals now, where young children live. Most of these houses have not been tested for lead and other hazards such as flame retardants, cadmium, mercury and more. Only two people at the Genesee County Health Department have to handle this huge threat to our children’s futures. What laws have been enacted to reach more of these parents and esp. landlords. I know that Detroit has more laws about lead than Flint. However, Flint and the rest of Genesee County need those laws just as bad. How can we get started?

  2. Arthur Siegal 17. Jan, 2011 at 6:12 pm #

    Christina – there are HUD and EPA and state and local programs to address lead in paint. Kevin blogged previously about lead abatement requirements and there have been lead notification requirements (as well as some grants and other funding) in place for landlords to communicate to their tenants.

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