Overregulating the chemistry industry jeopardizes innovation, jobs, and economic growth. Learn more.

  • Read time: 5 minutes
  • Press Release

California’s MCL for Hexavalent Chromium Is Based on a Flawed Process and Outdated Science that Will Undermine State and Local Water Affordability Initiatives

Allison Edwards

WASHINGTON (April 18, 2024) — Today, the American Chemistry Council, the California Chamber of Commerce, the California League of Food Producers, the California Manufacturers & Technology Association, the Partnership for Sound Science in Environmental Policy, and Western Wood Preservers Institute issued the following statement on the State Water Resources Control Board’s action to adopt a final rule to lower the maximum contaminant level for hexavalent chromium:

“The State Water Resources Control Board’s (SWRCB) maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 10 parts per billion (ppb) for hexavalent chromium was not developed in the manner intended, and required, by the California Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). Among the fundamental requirements of the SDWA is that a drinking water standard be adopted through a transparent, multi-step process that starts with a risk assessment based on the best available science, includes external peer review of the scientific portions of the proposed standard, meaningfully engages the public, and results in a drinking water standard that is protective of public health without imposing unnecessary costs on water system operators or rate payers.

“The 10 ppb MCL for hexavalent chromium is based on the public health goal (PHG) adopted by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) in 2011, before the publication of a large body of high-quality scientific research designed to better understand how exposure to hexavalent chromium in drinking water can affect the risk of adverse health effects like cancer. The SDWA requires OEHHA to review a PHG at least once every 5 years, and the hexavalent chromium PHG should have been reviewed in 2016 and again in 2021 based on the availability of newly published research. OEHHA started the PHG-update process with a data call-in on October 28, 2016, and issued a second data call-in on March 27, 2023. At that time, and consistent with past practice, the SWRCB should have suspended the MCL-rulemaking process pending completion of the PHG update to allow the SWRCB to fully evaluate the impact of the new PHG on the estimated health benefits, economic feasibility, and affordability of the proposed MCL.

“Instead, less than three months after OEHHA’s announcement that it was reviewing the PHG, the SWRCB released a proposed MCL for hexavalent chromium. The MCL adopted by the SWRCB today is unchanged from that proposal, even though the PHG review process is still ongoing at OEHHA and is not anticipated to be completed until after the SWRCB’s adoption of the MCL.

“In the last 13 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 equivalent to the current U.S. EPA total chromium MCL of 100 ppb and supports the conclusion that the current California total chromium MCL of 50 ppb is health protective. In addition, based on this research, other authoritative bodies, including Health Canada and the World Health Organization, have set health protective drinking water guidelines at 50 ppb total chromium. These standards are designed to protect against exposures to hexavalent chromium.

“Based on the SWRCB analysis for the proposed regulation, setting the MCL for hexavalent chromium at 10 ppb will have significant impacts on affected water providers and rate payers, including making water less affordable in economically disadvantaged communities. The SWRCB estimated in 2021 that it would cost nearly $10.3 billion over a five-year period to implement interim and long-term water quality solutions for systems that are failing or at risk of failing to meet existing MCLs. These costs are in addition to future costs expected to be incurred by public water systems and passed down to rate payers for anticipated MCLs for other contaminants. Given drinking water funding constraints and challenges, the state cannot afford to increase that burden, especially if the best available science indicates that the additional cost will not produce meaningful improvements in public health.”

Combined Logos For California 2024


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 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.

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 Partnership for Sound Science in Environmental Policy

The Partnership for Sound Science in Environmental Policy (PSSEP) is an association of San Francisco area and statewide public and private entities – businesses, municipal wastewater treatment agencies, trade associations and community organizations.

Western Wood Preservers Institute

Western Wood Preservers Institute (WWPI) is a non-profit trade association founded in 1947 to serve the interests of the preserved wood industry in western North America, including California. WWPI works with federal, state and local agencies, as well as designers, contractors and users over the entire preserved wood life cycle. We strive to increase public understanding and confidence in preserved wood products and advocate for reasonable and economic regulations regarding the production and use of these products.

We use cookies to personalize content and ads, to provide social media features, and to analyze our traffic. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners.

Privacy Policy - Terms & Conditions