New Jersey's 40th Legislative District

Senator Kevin O'Toole

Senator Kevin O'Toole

O’Toole Calls for Hearing on NJ Water Quality Following Release of National Report

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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.

Sen. Kevin O’Toole calls for public hearings on water safety, following a report that drinking water in as many as 138 NJ towns may contain unsafe levels of certain chemicals. (Pixbay)

“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.”

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.

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