SACRAMENTO The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment released a new draft of a public health goal for chromium 6 Friday that is lower than the previously proposed goal for the amount of the chemical in drinking water.

The OEHHA said the draft public health goal has been lowered from .06 parts per billion to .02 parts per billion because of "consideration of early-in-life exposures for cancer potency."

Chromium 6 is known to cause cancer when inhaled and studies have shown that large amounts of ingested chromium 6 cause tumors in rats and mice. The chemical is found in nature or can be released by certain industrial processes.

Although public health goals for chemicals cannot be enforced, they are used to set the maximum amount of the chemical that will be allowed in drinking water. There currently is no set drinking water standard for the chemical in the nation.

Hinkley has been facing a chromium 6 contamination of its groundwater after Pacific Gas and Electric used the chemical in cooling tower water in order to prevent rusting in its compressor station in Hinkley in the 1950s. The water was released into unlined ponds at the site, where it slowly seeped into the groundwater. The plume of contaminated water is now about 2 miles long and nearly a mile wide. PG&E has been ordered by the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board to stop the spread of the chemical and reduce it to background levels.

The OEHHA will be accepting comments on the revised public health goal until the end of January. For more information, visit or call (510) 622-3170.

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