Berliner Addresses Hexavalent Chromium Report in Letter to WSSC
County councilman advocates for further study of the chemical found in Bethesda's drinking water in letter to WSSC.
County Councilmember Roger Berliner (D-Dist. 1) called a study that uncovered hexavalent chromium in Bethesda's drinking water a "cause for concern" in a Jan. 4 letter addressed to Jerry Johnson, general manager of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission.
Hexavalant chromium, a chemical also known as chromium-6 that was at issue in the 2000 film Erin Brockovich, has been called a "probable carcinogen." In December, the Environmental Working Group released a study of the drinking water in 35 cities across the country and found traces of the chemical in most cities evaluated, including Bethesda. The amount discovered in Bethesda, 0.19 parts per billion, is more than three times California's proposed "public health goal" 0.06 parts per billion.
The EPA is studying whether to set a cap for the chemical in drinking water.
WSSC has responded to the report saying its water is safe to drink and meets or exceeds all EPA standards. "WSSC has never had a drinking water violation. Our Consolidated Laboratory routinely tests for nearly 200 chemical substances. If and when the EPA determines it is necessary to do so, we will test for more," read a statement released by the water utility.
According to news reports, EPA chief Lisa Jackson said last month the federal agency would offer technical assistance to communities where the chemical was identified for further study of chromium-6.
"It is my understanding that EPA will issue guidance to help develop monitoring and sampling programs specifically for chromium-6 and has offered technical assistance to the communities cited in the EWG report with the highest levels of chromium-6 to help ensure they quickly develop an effective chromium-6 specific monitoring program. Clearly, Bethesda and the WSSC should be included in these efforts," Berliner wrote.
"I would ask that WSSC report back to me as to the feasibility of joining the monitoring effort for this pollutant and, if it is possible, to ascertain the source of this substance in our drinking water."
Read the full letter to the right.