Archives for category: Chromium

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In an Arizona smelter town, people have endured decades of dirty air, disease — and bureaucratic dawdling. While the EPA and state regulators clash, citizens await relief. When it comes to toxic air pollution, help often arrives late.

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The Moapa River Indian Reservation, tribal home of the Moapa Band of Paiutes, sits about 30 miles north of Las Vegas and about 300 yards from the coal ash ponds and landfills of the Reid Gardner Power Station. Coal ash is the toxic ash and sludge left at the end of the coal burning process. It’s laced with arsenic, mercury, lead and other heavy metals. It’s the second largest waste stream in America and it’s currently unregulated.

If the conditions are just wrong, coal ash picks up from Reid Gardner and moves across the desert like a toxic sandstorm sending the local residents running for their homes. The reservation has lung, heart and thyroid disease rates that are abnormally high and the power plant is currently seeking to expand its coal ash storage capability.

The film An Ill Wind tells the Paiute Indians’ story.

View and interactive presentation of the story here.

Watch the complete film here.

And learn more about coal ash here

From Chicago Tribune:

Chicago’s first round of testing for a toxic metal called hexavalent chromium found that levels in local drinking water are more than 11 times higher than a health standard California adopted last month.

But it could take years before anything is done about chromium contamination in Chicago and scores of other cities, in part because industrial polluters and municipal water utilities are lobbying to block or delay the Obama administration’s move toward national regulations.

The discovery of hexavalent chromium in drinking water is renewing a debate about dozens of unregulated substances that are showing up in water supplies nationwide. Potential health threats from many of the industrial chemicals, pharmaceutical drugs and herbicides still are being studied, but researchers say there is strong evidence that years of exposure to chromium-contaminated water can cause stomach cancer.

Test results obtained by the Tribune show that treated Lake Michigan water pumped to 7 million people in Chicago and its suburbs contains up to 0.23 parts per billion of the toxic metal, well above an amount that researchers say could increase the long-term risk of cancer.

Chicago began quarterly testing for the dangerous form of chromium this year after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency urged cities to track it while the Obama administration wraps up a scientific review — the first step toward a national standard. Until now, the results have not been shared with the public.

Federal officials are being nudged to act by California, which took a three-year look at the science and last month established the nation’s first “public health goal” to limit hexavalent chromium, an industrial pollutant made infamous by the 2000 movie “Erin Brockovich.”

The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment defines the goal, 0.02 parts per billion, as an amount that reduces the risk of developing cancer to a point considered negligible by most scientists and physicians. Studies show that exposure to the metal also increases the risk of reproductive problems, interferes with childhood development and causes liver and kidney damage.

Echoing their counterparts in other cities where the metal has been detected, Chicago officials stress that local tap water is safe and suggest that if a national limit is adopted, it likely would be less stringent than California’s goal. But the findings raise new concerns about a toxic metal that can pass unfiltered through conventional water treatment.

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From Environmental Health News:

By Rebecca Fuoco

Tanner, a 12-year-old from Clyde, Ohio, had a difficult school year. He was only able to attend a few weeks of school. Summer activities are also limited for Tanner, who cannot swim in public pools because his leukemia has left him with a diminished immune system.

Tanner and his older sister are among nearly 40 children from Sandusky County who have been diagnosed with cancer. The community of 62,000 has fought for answers to explain the series of child cancers that began a decade ago.

While cancer clusters are a nightmare for families and communities, they also are frustrating for state and local health officials. Cancer cluster investigations are notoriously difficult because of small budgets, the variety of factors involved in cancer development and the multitude of possible sources and exposures. They are almost always inconclusive.

Earlier this year, Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) introduced a bill known as “Trevor’s Law,” named after Trevor Schaefer, a brain cancer survivor who was diagnosed at the age of 13 and has worked to raise awareness of disease clusters and possible links to the environment.

This legislation would direct and fund federal agencies to assist state health officials in investigating potential clusters. It also would create science-based guidelines for cluster identification. The bill was sparked by rising rates of childhood cancer and the President’s Cancer Panel’s 2010 statement that the burden of environmentally-induced cancer is grossly underestimated.

Cancer clusters should indeed be a public policy concern. Forty-two cancer and other disease clusters in 13 states were recently identified by the Natural Resources Defense Council. All of them are suspected of being caused by toxic exposures in the community.

However, Trevor’s Law will yield little benefit unless there also is a significant change in the way chemicals are regulated in the United States.

The Toxic Substances Control Act is the federal law responsible for ensuring safety of industrial chemicals. Among its weaknesses is that it does not require chemical producers to provide data on a chemical’s environmental fate or toxicity before it is introduced into the market. Under the 1976 law, the Environmental Protection Agency may require the manufacturer to provide this information only if a chemical poses certain health or environmental risks. Even then, the procedures EPA must follow to obtain test data from companies can take years.

The EPA does not have the resources to routinely assess the hazards of 700 some chemicals introduced into commerce each year and companies very rarely voluntarily perform such testing. Accordingly, the vast majority of chemicals on the market today have not been tested for toxicity. Without access to scientific information on potential exposure routes, toxic mechanisms and health effects of at least 85,000 chemicals on the market today, it will remain exceedingly difficult for agencies to investigate clusters and their possible environmental causes.

Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) has introduced the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011, which will begin to close the data gap by requiring chemical manufacturers to develop and make publicly available toxicity and exposure information for all chemicals. . . .

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You can watch Trevor’s riveting testimony to the U.S. Senate (around 31:15) at this video link.

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From steveelder1:

5250 Ppb Hexavalent Chromium has been found in many of the drinking water wells in the Cotton Flat Neighborhood of south Midland and unincorporated Midland County Texas. In some cases, the amount of Hexavalent Chromium is 500 times over the EPA 100 legal limit. This dangerous pollutant can lead to skin irritation, throat and lung irritation, and a multitude of cancers. Erin Brockovich and Bob Bowcock speak with residents regarding how to get safe water to there families.

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