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Chromium 6 Can Cause Cancer

Chromium 6 Found in San Diego Neighborhood

SAN DIEGO, CA -- February 15, 2002 -- California air quality investigators have found high levels of a cancer-causing substance, chromium 6 or hexavalent chromium, in the Barrio Logan area of San Diego (San Diego Union-Tribune, February 1, 2002). Out of 87 samples taken in the neighborhood, 29 violated state health standards. The highest chromium 6 levels were found near a home that is located between two chrome-plating businesses.

Senator Boxer Calls for EPA Investigation

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has written to the Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator, urging him to further investigate the extent of the chromium 6 contamination (Press Release, February 1, 2002). "I believe that steps must be taken to protect families in the living area," Boxer said. "It is particularly disturbing that the highest level of toxins were found at a home where three young children live."

Sources of Chromium 6 Contamination

Identified as a toxic air contaminant under California's air toxics program in 1986, chromium 6 is so named because it is the +6 oxidation state of the metal chromium. Chrome plating is a major source of chromium 6 air emissions in California. Chrome electroplating operations are conducted in baths containing chromic acid. During the plating process, bubbles of gas containing chromium 6 are emitted from the bath's surface. Chromium emissions can also occur from chromium 6 firebrick lining of glass furnaces (Chromium and Chromium Compounds, Fact Sheets, California Air Resources Board).

For many years, Pacific Gas and Electric (PGE) had added chromium 6 to its water towers to inhibit corrosion, contaminating nearby wells and ground water. In the famous Erin Brockovich case (Anderson v. Pacific Gas and Electric), a $333 million settlement was reached between PGE and residents of Hinkley, California who developed illnesses through exposure to chromium 6.

Today, more chromium-related lawsuits against PGE are wending their way through the California state courts. A federal bankruptcy judge recently rebuffed PGE's attempt to move these state court cases to federal court (Los Angeles Times, January 10, 2002).

Brayton Purcell is the largest law firm in the West representing consumers, injured workers and their families. We have extensive experience in helping individuals who have been exposed to environmental toxins. Please feel free to contact us for your legal needs.

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