Washington, DC - Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a statement from Administrator Lisa Jackson detailing the actions the Agency is taking to address the issue of chromium-6, a cancer-causing toxic chemical, in drinking water. Yesterday Senators Barbara Boxer, Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and Dianne Feinstein (both D-CA) wrote to the Administrator, regarding EPA's efforts to keep chromium-6 out of the drinking water supply.

Senator Boxer said: "This is really good news. The EPA is being vigilant and acting properly to address the issue of chromium-6 - a toxic chemical - that has been detected in the drinking water supplies in California and across the nation. We will continue to work closely with the EPA to ensure that children and other vulnerable people are fully protected from this dangerous toxin."

Senator Feinstein said: "I'm pleased that the Environmental Protection Agency responded so quickly to our call to address the prevalence of chromium-6 in drinking water. We already know that chromium-6 can cause cancer. It is also proven to cause carcinogenic activity in laboratory animals and is suspected to do the same in humans. EPA's first step of providing guidance and technical assistance complements California's leadership in drafting a public health goal for chromium-6, and I look forward to working with EPA to ensure aggressive follow-through."

Senators Boxer and Feinstein wrote a letter to the Agency yesterday asking that it quickly provide information on its efforts to keep chromium-6 out of drinking water. Senator Boxer also highlighted that she intends to introduce legislation, with Senator Feinstein as a cosponsor, that would set a deadline for the EPA to set an enforceable drinking water safeguard for hexavalent chromium, and she announced that the EPW Committee will be holding a hearing on this issue in February 2011.

In a statement released today, Administrator Jackson indicated that EPA will be working with states and communities to determine the full scope of chromium-6 contamination nationwide, and will provide technical assistance and guidance to states and communities regarding testing and sampling for chromium-6. Jackson also indicated that once EPA's chromium-6 risk assessment is finalized, EPA will work quickly to determine if new standards need to be set. She said that based on the current draft assessment, which has yet to undergo scientific peer review, "it is likely that EPA will tighten drinking water standards to address the health risks posed by chromium-6."

Attached below is a PDF version of the letter to EPA.