Following a report from a national environmental organization that drinking water in as many as 138 New Jersey municipalities may contain unsafe levels of the chemical compound chromium-6, Senator Kevin O’Toole (R-Essex, Bergen, Morris Passaic) is asking Senate Environment and Energy Committee Chair Robert Smith to schedule public hearings on water safety.
“Reports on water safety, such as the one that is making headlines today, have the potential to cause widespread panic and confusion among our residents. It is yet to be determined at what level hexavalent chromium in our drinking water poses a significant health risk to our population, but I certainly don’t want to sit on the sidelines and wait until that is determined,” Sen. O’Toole said. “That is why I have requested Chairman Smith to convene a special hearing with all stakeholders and experts on this matter.”
138 NJ towns may have unsafe levels of chemicals in drinking water. I'm calling for a public hearing on water safety https://t.co/OQI08c9tay
— Sen. Kevin O'Toole (@kevinjotoole) September 21, 2016
Chromium 6 or hexavalent chromium can cause lung cancer if its crystals are inhaled and stomach tumors if consumed, according to federal health officials.
As many as 138 municipal water supplies may have elevated levels of Chromium 6 — including more than 20 towns in Bergen and Passaic County — according to the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit organization in Washington D.C., which issued a report on water quality this week.
The EWG is using California standards for hexavalent chromium measurements of 0.6 parts per billion as a benchmark for chromium safety. Levels in New Jersey water tested by WEG were significantly higher than the California standard. The federal Environmental Protection Agency has not yet set a standard for chromium-6 in drinking water.
“These hearings will help state lawmakers make informed decisions on the important public health issue of water quality and allow us to take the appropriate and necessary steps to protect all of our residents,” Sen. O’Toole added.