California State Superior Court Reduces Allowable Concentration Levels for Hexavalent Chromium in Groundwater
As part of its regulations, the California State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) has developed Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for various chemicals that threaten groundwater supplies. These are health protective drinking water standards which are required to be met by public water systems. They take into account not only chemicals' health risks but also factors such as their detectability and treatability, as well as costs of treatment.
One of the MCLs is hexavalent chromium, which is a toxic form of the metal chromium. Hexavalent chromium is generally man-made, it is widely used in pigments, metal finishing and plating, wood preservatives and fungicides, and in chemical synthesis as an ingredient and catalyst. The current MCL for hexavalent chromium established by the State Water Board is 10 parts per billion (ppb).
On May 8, 2017, the California State Superior Court issued an order to the State Water Board to vacate the current hexavalent chromium MCL, and to establish a new MCL as close as feasible to the current Public Health Goal (PHG) of 0.02 ppb. This order includes consideration of the economic feasibility of compliance with the new MCL, especially for small water systems. Once a formal judgment is finalized between the Petitioner (California Manufacturers & Technology Association) and the State Water Board, the State will proceed with re-establishing an MCL for hexavalent chromium.
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