City and state officials tested 11 of Oahu’s largest water sources and found probable carcinogen hexavalent chromium — but in quantities they say do not pose a public health threat.
According to the director of the Hawaii State Department of Health, Neal Palafox, Honolulu’s hexavalent chromium levels ranged from 0.32 parts per billion to 4.0 parts per billion. But there is no EPA standard specifically for hexavalent chromium in drinking water.
In 1992, the EPA set a regulation for chromium — which includes hexavalent chromium — at 100 parts per billion.
“In general, the results have shown more or less what we expected,” Palafox said. “We believe that all the results come in within safe limits and come in within EPA standards.”
Hexavalent chromium was made famous by the movie “Erin Brockovich.” The movie chronicled the true story of Hinkley, Calif. residents who suffered from cancers and other diseases after drinking contaminated water. Chromium is released to the environment mostly from man-made sources.
The compound was back in headlines in December when the Environmental Working Group released a report that found Honolulu’s tap water had trace amounts of the substance.
According to the report, Honolulu ranked second among 31 cities for hexavalent chromium, with two parts per billion.
The findings sparked a legislative hearing where lawmakers were told that Honolulu’s total chromium levels were inline with EPA standards.
The state tested 11 different sites around the island. The results are below:
Total Chromium (ppb)
Hexavalent Chromium (ppb)
Kaimuki Pumping Station – High Service
Hawaii Kai Fire Station
Pearl City Shaft
Waihee Tunnel plus inclined Well
Beretania Pumping Station – Low Service
Department of Health officials say they will continue testing wells throughout the year. They plan on testing 50 pumping stations state-wide.
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