State responds to Chromium survey - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

State responds to Chromium survey

Bonnie Marsh Bonnie Marsh
Dr. Neal Palafox, director of the state Department of Health. Dr. Neal Palafox, director of the state Department of Health.
Gary Gill Gary Gill

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email 

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Concerns over Oahu's drinking water surfaced in Bonnie Marsh's home after a mainland group's study claimed Oahu's water supply may be contaminated with high levels of Chromium VI, a suspected cancer causing agent.

"I want to know that it's just clean fresh water," she said.

Marsh and others sat in on a meeting called by lawmakers where the Department of Health questioned the reliability of the study, saying it was based on a single sample taken from one site.

"We don't have a smoking gun or anything to be concerned about from a public health standpoint," DOH deputy director Gary Gill said.

The study done by the Environmental Working Group said 35 cities were chosen and surveyed at random.

DOH said that's not true.

"They actually searched the national database to see which cities actually had Chromium in the water and they focused on them. So just keep that in perspective," said Stuart Yamada of the DOH Safe Drinking Water Branch.

Health officials said Chromium is in Oahu's water supply naturally in trace amounts from lava rock.

The standard for safe levels is 100 parts per billion. The sample contained two parts per billion.

"In a very personal way I would say that if I'm the director of health, I have kids and they have kids, I'd be the first one and they'd be the first ones to jump up and down to clean the water - if I thought it was a major risk," DOH director Dr. Neal Palafox said.

"There's no indication that the Chromium in our water provides any significant health threat to the public," Gill said.

The Board of Water Supply is collecting its own samples for Chromium testing. The results are expected in about a month.

Marsh said what she learned at the meeting makes her more confident in the safety of the state's most precious resource.

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