If you thought Southern California’s nonchalant attitude towards “POOWater” “NEWater” was disturbing, HuffPo gives the entire Golden State a reason to wring its hands in fear of turning on the tap today. Two environmental groups are now suing the California Department of Public Health for dragging its feet on setting a standard for levels of chromium-6 in our drinking water. That’s the carcinogenic evildoer found in the industrial runoff of Erin Brockovich legend that you really don’t want to encounter when reaching for a glass of H2O.
According to the story, in 2001 our state legislature mandated that public health agencies set an enforceable standard for the chemical in our drinking water, but that didn’t happen. For over eight years! Might that have anything to do with the arsenic-chugging, water regulation-damning commander-in-chief of that bleak era’s dawn? Well, great question, and yeah, probably. But the official response from the California EPA is that stupid science got in the way as the chemical’s dangers when ingested through water was supposedly still in dispute, though they were confirmed six years later by nerds at the National Toxicology Program.
Then, just about the time when the standard was about to be set, the level of acceptable chrmium-6 got lowered, as it was found that the stuff is even more cancer-causing than previously suspected for fetuses and kids, leading to more bureaucratic boondoggling over water testing and treatments to maintain the acceptable levels. During those multiple years of there not being a standard set for the stuff, testing at 7,000 California water sources found that roughly one-third of them had levels high enough to be carcinogenic, with the majority found in L.A., Santa Barbara, and San Bernadino counties.
Even worse, the Department of Public Health now says it needs another two to three years to establish a standard for a chemical that could very well be coming out of our taps in harmful amounts. Suddenly, a steady diet of Dasani (or even straight Coca-Cola) is sounding sort of preferable to a clear pour laced with chromium-6.