Cities Confirm EWG Tap Water Tests

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

EWG Public Affairs 202-667-6982; leeann@ewg.org

Cities Confirm EWG Tap Water Tests

WASHINGTON - Testing by four municipal drinking water suppliers has confirmed the
results of a study by the Environmental Working Group that detected
widespread contamination by chromium-6, a suspected toxic carcinogen.

In oral testimony Wednesday (Feb. 2) before the Senate Environment
and Public Works Committee, EWG president and co-founder Ken Cook said
that the four water utilities reported detecting chromium-6
contamination at concentrations similar to or higher than those
measured by EWG's research.  All are significantly higher than
California's proposed public health goal of 0.02 parts per billion.

"It's not a partisan issue, it's not a regional issue, it's an American issue," Cook testified.

The utility testing results made public so far:  

-- Honolulu, Hawaii

The Honolulu Board of Water Supply took 11 samples from Oahu pumping stations showing   chromium-6 levels ranging from 0.32 to 4.00 parts per billion.  EWG sample: 2 ppb.

-- Madison, Wisc.

Madison's utility found chromium-6 in four wells at concentrations of 0.40 ppb to 1.79 ppb.  EWG sample: 1.58 ppb.

-- Milwaukee, Wisc.

The Milwaukee utility's tests on January 4 found concentrations of 0.19 ppb to 0.22 ppb.  EWG sample:  0.18 ppb.

-- Bend, Ore.

In Bend, Ore., Avion water reported finding up to 0.65 ppb.  EWG sample: 0.78 ppb.  

The federal National Toxicology Program has concluded from animal testing that the pollutant

shows "clear evidence of carcinogenic activity." An EPA draft review called chromium-6 in tap

water "likely to be carcinogenic to humans."

On December 20, the Environmental Working Group released a study entitled "Cancer-

Causing Chromium-6 Pollution in U.S. Tap Water," which reported results of laboratory

tests of drinking water from 35 cities.  Because few jurisdictions
test specifically for chromium-6, EWG took conducted samplings in 35
cities whose annual water quality reports indicated significant total
chromium pollution.  To create a snapshot of these water supplies, EWG
tested for chromium-6, also called hexavalent chromium, or the "Erin
Brockovich chemical," for her storied campaign to uncover industrial
dumping in California.

EWG engaged volunteers to collect samples, using a standard protocol,
from unfiltered taps in homes or in public buildings. EWG researchers
sent these samples to a nationally recognized laboratory. The tests
found toxic hexavalent chromium in the water supplies of 31 cities,
serving more than 26 million Americans.

The EWG report contains an extensive section on the methodology used
to test tap water for chromium-6. The methodology described how the
water samples were obtained, shipped and analyzed, with name and contact
information of the laboratory and quality controls. On October 22, EWG
research staff briefed the American Water Works Association and the
Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies on the upcoming chromium-6
report

On December 31, eleven days after EWG released its report, California lowered its chromimum-6 public health goal from 0.06 to 0.02 parts per billion (ppb).  

Since the release of EWG's report, the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency acknowledged the potential risks of excessive exposure to
chromium-6. EPA has offered federal assistance to utilities to assess
chromium-6 pollution. At Wednesday's hearing, EPA administrator Lisa
Jackson called EWG's snapshot results "consistent with other studies
that have also detected chromium-6 in public water systems."

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate committee
told Cook to "keep on doing what you're doing. I like what you're doing.
I certainly welcome it. We can't stop the science or telling the truth to the American people."

Go here for EWG's chromium-6 testing methodology:

http://static.ewg.org/reports/2010/chrome6/html/methodology.html

EWG President Ken Cook Testifies at Senate Water Contamination Hearing. (PDF)

Senate Hearing Focuses on EWG's Chromium-6 Study

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The mission of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) is to use the power of public information to protect public health and the environment. EWG is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, founded in 1993 by Ken Cook and Richard Wiles.

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