Health Department Releases Chromium VI Test Results

January 25, 2011, 2:18 PM HST
* Updated January 29, 2:15 AM
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The State Health Department joined the Honolulu Board of Water Supply today in releasing its first results of water testing for hexavalent chromium, also. known as chromium VI.  Tests were conducted on drinking water samples from 11 Oahu sites, with the majority of samples taken from customers in West, Central, and East Oahu, as well as the North Shore and Windward side of the island.

The DOH in cooperation with neighbor island County and private water systems, will perform similar testing of drinking water samples to determine the occurrence and concentration of chromium VI in neighbor island drinking water supplies as well.

Total chromium results on Oahu ranged between non-detectable levels (<1.0 parts per billion or “ppb”) and 4.8 ppb.  Health officials say that’s well below the current U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and DOH drinking water regulatory limit for Total Chromium of 100 ppb, and consistent with levels found by the department during routine regulatory monitoring. Health officials further state that the chromium VI results, ranging between 0.32 ppb and 4.0 ppb, are within the expected range of natural background for Hawaii and are not indicative of industrial contamination.

The DOH continues to stress that while chromium VI is a contaminant of concern, adverse health effects posed by consuming tap water with trace levels of naturally occurring chromium VI have not been identified by EPA at this time.

“It is premature to assume that there is a significant problem with chromium VI before scientific, health-based studies have been conducted and thoroughly reviewed,” said Interim Health Director Neal Palafox, M.D., M.P.H. “Results of an EPA health assessment are expected this year, at which time EPA will decide whether to regulate chromium VI in drinking water.”

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The BWS is also expected to continue sampling on Oahu to develop a more comprehensive picture of chromium VI in their systems. Future test results will all be posted on the BWS and DOH websites listed above as they become available.

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“The department commends the Honolulu Board of Water Supply for its quick and proactive response to a drinking water sampling report that was released late last year, and for its continued cooperation in the sharing of these results,“ said Interim Health Director Neal Palafox, M.D., M.P.H.

“The Board of Water Supply is committed to assessing the extent of chromium VI presence in our water supplies by collecting and testing samples in consultation with the State Department of Health,” said BWS Manager and Chief Engineer Wayne Hashiro. “The information collected will help to establish a baseline of the presence of hexavalent chromium in our water,” said Hashiro.

(Posted by Wendy Osher, Information courtesy State Dept. of Health)

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