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Schiff proposes chromium study

January 26, 2001

Alex Coolman

GLENDALE -- U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Glendale) waded into the murky

waters of the chromium 6 debate Thursday, releasing a two-pronged plan

for addressing the issue.

Schiff proposed that the National Toxicology Program conduct a study

to determine whether chromium 6 -- which is known to be carcinogenic when

inhaled -- is also hazardous when ingested in water.

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He also urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to release a

definitive public health standard for chromium 6.

No standard has been set for chromium 6 contamination. Federal and

state safety standards for total chromium differ dramatically.

That leaves cities like Glendale, which has water supplies

contaminated by chromium 6, unsure about the safety of their water and

unsure how hard they should be working to protect safety, Schiff said.

"I'm sure they would like to know that a scientific authority has

found that, yes, it is a problem, or no, it isn't a problem," he said.

Why not err on the side of caution? The answer, Schiff said, is money.

"None of these decisions are without costs, and Glendale knows that

all too well."

Schiff's announcement came as regulatory officials were gathered in

Glendale for a conference on the chromium 6 problem. The comments at that

conference were full of the scientific uncertainty and financial concern

Schiff said he wanted to address.

Addressing the Glendale conference, Robert Howd of the California

Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment sounded like he was

thinking along the same lines as Schiff.

"We have to talk about what is feasible, what is practical" Howd said.

"Purity is impossible."

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