S 79

112th CONGRESS
1st Session

S. 79

To amend the Safe Drinking Water Act to protect the health of vulnerable individuals, including pregnant women, infants, and children, by requiring a health advisory and drinking water standard for hexavalent chromium.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

January 25 (legislative day, January 5), 2011

Mrs. BOXER (for herself and Mrs. FEINSTEIN) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works


A BILL

To amend the Safe Drinking Water Act to protect the health of vulnerable individuals, including pregnant women, infants, and children, by requiring a health advisory and drinking water standard for hexavalent chromium.

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the `Protecting Pregnant Women and Children From Hexavalent Chromium Act of 2011'.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS AND PURPOSE.

    (a) Findings- Congress finds that--

      (1) according to the National Toxicology Program of the Department of Health and Human Services--

        (A) chromium is a metal that can take various forms, including `hexavalent chromium', which is created when the metal is heated;

        (B) hexavalent chromium, also called `Chrome 6', is widely used in metal fabrication, chrome finishing and plating, stainless-steel production, leather tanning, and wood preservatives to reduce corrosion and for other purposes; and

        (C) determining the full extent of human exposures to Chrome 6 can be difficult to quantify because exposure studies do not normally identify the specific form of chromium, but people can come into contact with Chrome 6 through breathing in air, drinking water, or touching products that contain the metal;

      (2) according to the Environmental Protection Agency--

        (A) in 2009, facilities in the United States released almost 8,000,000 pounds of chromium into the air, water, and land; and

        (B) in 2010, chromium was a primary contaminant in more than 500 of the most heavily contaminated sites on the National Priorities List developed by the President in accordance with section 105(a)(8)(B) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (42 U.S.C. 9605(a)(8)(B)), which means that more than 40 percent of those most heavily contaminated sites in the United States are contaminated with chromium;

      (3) in 1990, the International Agency for the Research on Cancer declared that Chrome 6 was known to cause cancer in people when inhaled;

      (4) as early as 1998, the Environmental Protection Agency also concluded that Chrome 6 could cause cancer when inhaled;

      (5) in 2008, the National Toxicology Program of the Department of Health and Human Services concluded that Chrome 6 in drinking water shows `clear evidence' of cancer-causing activity in laboratory animals;

      (6) a 2010 draft toxicological review of Chrome 6 by the Environmental Protection Agency found that the contaminant in tap water is `likely to be carcinogenic to humans' and cited significant cancer concerns and other health effects from animal studies, including anemia and damage to the gastrointestinal tract, lymph nodes, and liver;

      (7) nearly 2 decades before the date of enactment of this Act, in 1991, the Environmental Protection Agency established a tap water standard for total chromium at 100 parts per billion;

      (8) in 2009, the State of California proposed a public health goal of 0.06 parts per billion for Chrome 6 in drinking water, which is almost 1,700 times lower than the standard for total chromium established by the Environmental Protection Agency;

      (9) in 2010, the State of California proposed a public health goal of 0.02 parts per billion for Chrome 6 in drinking water and stated that `new research has documented that young children and other sensitive populations are more susceptible than the general population to health risks from exposure to carcinogens';

      (10) a December 2010 report from a nonprofit organization, which represents a snap-shot in time for water quality, tested tap water in 35 cities across the United States for chromium and Chrome 6 and found that--

        (A) the majority of chromium in drinking water was Chrome 6; and

        (B) tap water in 31 cities across the country contained Chrome 6, of which the 10 cities with the highest levels were--

          (i) Norman, Oklahoma;

          (ii) Honolulu, Hawaii;

          (iii) Riverside, California;

          (iv) Madison, Wisconsin;

          (v) San Jose, California;

          (vi) Tallahassee, Florida;

          (vii) Omaha, Nebraska;

          (viii) Albuquerque, New Mexico;

          (ix) Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and

          (x) Bend, Oregon; and

      (11) tap water from 25 cities had levels of Chrome 6 above the 2009 proposed public health goal of the State of California.

    (b) Purpose- The purpose of this Act is to require the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to establish--

      (1) by not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, a health advisory for hexavalent chromium in drinking water that--

        (A) is fully protective of, and considers, the body weight and exposure patterns of pregnant women, infants, and children;

        (B) provides an adequate margin of safety; and

        (C) takes into account all routes of exposure to hexavalent chromium; and

      (2) by not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, a national primary drinking water regulation for hexavalent chromium that fully protects pregnant women, infants, and children, taking into consideration body weight, exposure patterns, and all routes of exposure to hexavalent chromium.

SEC. 3. HEALTH ADVISORY AND NATIONAL PRIMARY DRINKING WATER REGULATION FOR HEXAVALENT CHROMIUM.

    Section 1412(b)(12) of the Safe Drinking Water Act (42 U.S.C. 300g-1(b)(12)) is amended by adding at the end the following:

        `(C) HEXAVALENT CHROMIUM-

          `(i) HEALTH ADVISORY- Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this subparagraph, the Administrator shall publish a health advisory for hexavalent chromium that is fully protective, with an adequate margin of safety, of the health of vulnerable individuals (including pregnant women, infants, and children), taking into consideration body weight, exposure patterns, and all routes of exposure.

          `(ii) PROPOSED REGULATIONS- Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, the Administrator shall propose (not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this subparagraph) and shall finalize (not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this subparagraph) a national primary drinking water regulation for hexavalent chromium--

            `(I) that based on the factors in clause (i) and other relevant data, is protective, with an adequate margin of safety, of vulnerable individuals (including pregnant women, infants, and children); and

            `(II) the maximum contaminant level of which is as close to the maximum contaminant level goal for hexavalent chromium, and as protective of vulnerable individuals, as is feasible.'.

END