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California’s Proposal to Establish an MCL for Hexavalent Chromium Is Not Based on Best Available Science and Will Undermine Water Affordability Initiatives

Allison Edwards

WASHINGTON (June 16, 2023) — Today, the American Chemistry Council, the California Manufacturers and Technology Association, the California Chamber of Commerce and the California League of Food Producers issued the following statement on the State Water Resources Control Board’s proposed rule to lower the maximum contaminant level for hexavalent chromium:

“The State Water Resources Control Board’s (SWRCB) proposed rule to establish a maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 10 parts per billion (ppb) for hexavalent chromium is not based on the most up-to-date science, is not consistent with the findings of other authoritative bodies and would increase the cost of water without providing a meaningful improvement in public health.

“An MCL of 10 ppb for hexavalent chromium is based on the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment’s (OEHHA) public health goal (PHG), which was first adopted in 2011, before the publication of a large body of high-quality scientific research designed to understand how exposure to hexavalent chromium in drinking water can increase the risk of adverse health effects like cancer. In addition, OEHHA’s PHG is supposed to be reviewed at least once every 5 years and should have been revised in 2016 and again in 2021 based on the availability of newly published research.

“In the last 12 years since OEHHA’s public health goal was adopted, over 30 studies have been published in the peer-reviewed literature that investigated not only what levels of hexavalent chromium in drinking water can result in adverse health effects, but also the biological processes by which hexavalent chromium causes those effects. This body of research shows no observed toxicity in rodents exposed to concentrations equal to the current U.S. EPA total chromium MCL of 100 ppb and supports that the current EPA MCL is health protective. In addition, other authoritative bodies, including Health Canada and the World Health Organization, have set health protective drinking water guidelines at 50 ppb total chromium, which are designed to protect against exposures to hexavalent chromium. This is the same level at which California already regulates total chromium.

“Setting the MCL at 10 ppb for hexavalent chromium would not provide a meaningful improvement in public health but would have significant impacts on affected water providers and rate payers, including making water less affordable in economically disadvantaged communities. As the California Department of Finance stated in its comments on the SWRCB’s draft Standardized Regulatory Impact Assessment (SRIA) for the hexavalent chromium MCL, these differential impacts should be disclosed and evaluated in the SRIA, and that analysis should help inform the selection of a proposed MCL.

“We look forward to engaging with the SWRCB as well as submitting comments and participating at upcoming public hearings on this issue.”

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American Chemistry Council

The American Chemistry Council’s mission is to advocate for the people, policy, and products of chemistry that make the United States the global leader in innovation and manufacturing. To achieve this, we: Champion science-based policy solutions across all levels of government; Drive continuous performance improvement to protect employees and communities through Responsible Care®; Foster the development of sustainability practices throughout ACC member companies; and Communicate authentically with communities about challenges and solutions for a safer, healthier and more sustainable way of life. Our vision is a world made better by chemistry, where people live happier, healthier, and more prosperous lives, safely and sustainably—for generations to come.

The California Manufacturers & Technology Association

The California Manufacturers & Technology Association works to improve and enhance a strong business climate for California’s 30,000 manufacturing, processing and technology-based companies. Since 1918, CMTA has worked with the state government to develop balanced laws, effective regulations and sound public policies to stimulate economic growth and create new jobs while safeguarding the state’s environmental resources. CMTA represents 400 businesses from the entire manufacturing community — an economic sector that generates more than $300 billion every year and employs more than 1.3 million Californians.

The California Chamber of Commerce

The California Chamber of Commerce (“CalChamber”) is a non-profit business association with approximately 14,000 members, both individual and corporate, representing 25% of the state’s private sector and virtually every economic interest in the state of California. While CalChamber represents several of the largest corporations in California, 70% of its members have 100 or fewer employees. CalChamber acts on behalf of the business community to improve the state's economic and jobs climate by representing business on a broad range of legislative, regulatory and legal issues.

The California League of Food Producers

CLFP represents the interests of both large and small processors throughout California helps ensure a favorable and profitable business environment for its members and the food processing industry. CLFP members supply high-quality food products for consumers throughout the world including fruits, vegetables, juices and beverages, sauces, olives and olive oil, cheese, snacks, nuts, seasonings, and more.

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