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Environmental Working Group

Environmental Working Group - An environmental group says laboratory tests show the presence of a toxic chemical in 31 of 35 cities, with Honolulu having the second to highest level.

The nonprofit Environmental Working Group said hexavalent chromium, the same chemical that led to a $333-million legal settlement described in the movie "Erin Brockovich," is present in higher than recommended levels in Honolulu's water supply.

Drinking water from one location that was tested in Honolulu had 2 parts per billion of hexavalent chromium, compared to .06 ppb proposed as a public health goal by the California Environmental Protection Agency, the group said.

Environmental Working Group

Rebecca Sutton, the group's lead investigator, said the Honolulu Board of Water Supply did not know the source of the hexavalent chromium. She said the chemical is a common industrial contaminant and can also originate from natural, geologic sources such as ground water.

"Regardless of the source of contamination, we need safe drinking water," she said.

The Honolulu Board of Water Supply said it doesn't test for hexavalent chromium because the federal Environmental Protection Agency does not require it.

Board spokesman Kurt Tsue said he was "surprised" at the Environmental Working Group's evaluation since it ranked Honolulu sixth as the best drinking water in the nation earlier this year.

Tsue said the board does test for chromium, but cannot tell how much of it is hexavalent chromium. He said the board has met the federal guidelines for chromium, with a maximum contaminant level of 100 ppb.

Sutton said the single water sample tested from Honolulu was taken from a residence in the general vicinity of Wilhemina Rise in east Oahu. She said taking more samples would have been better but her organization was constrained by the cost of testing.

She said she felt confident that sampling other residences would bear similar results.

Environmental Working Group


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