Chromium 6: Is cancer-causing chemical threatening Compton?
Chromium plating and anodizing plants in Compton are suspected of emitting hexavalent chromium 6, a human carcinogen connected with lung cancer
Hexavalent chromium 6 is a human carcinogen connected with lung cancer. Photo courtesy Western Municipal Water District
Congressional representative Nannette Diaz Barragán seeks emergency funds for immediate testing for hexavalent chromium 6
COMPTON — Revelations that the South Coast Air Quality Management District had been tracking hexavalent chromium emissions from two Paramount Metal & Supply Company processing plants since last fall, now has implications to Compton.
Chromium plating and anodizing plants in Compton, which borders Paramount to the east, are suspected of emitting hexavalent chromium 6, a human carcinogen connected with lung cancer, the Compton Herald has learned.
The AQMD conducted preliminary testing in Compton, as it did in Paramount as part of the agency’s seven-year initiative to assess toxic emissions associated with metal processing facilities across South Los Angeles County.
According to 89.3 KPPC, AQMD staff detected total chromium using a handheld device that monitors for total chromium but doesn’t differentiate between chromium 6 and other types of chromium.
KPPC quoted AQMD spokesman Sam Atwood, who said “What we found was that there were some higher levels of total chromium closer to some of the metal processing facilities, and as you traveled away, these levels would diminish. This is step one, if not step one-half, and this just gives us an indication that indeed these are areas and facilities where we need to be conducting air monitoring,” he said.
Atwood couldn’t say how much total chromium was found, adding there is no health standard for it. The handheld device that monitors total chromium doesn’t differentiate between chromium 6 and other types of chromium.
Chromium 6 is associated with lung cancer when inhaled over long periods of time, typically years to decades, according to the AQMD.
Atwood said the detection of total chromium doesn’t indicate whether the cancer-causing compound is present in Compton. He said the AQMD would begin monitoring for chromium 6 in the coming weeks, and that the agency currently has seven air monitors available and will begin with testing at two facilities, according to KPPC.
That wasn’t urgent enough for Rep. Nannette Diaz Barragán, the freshman congresswoman who represents Compton. She is seeking more money from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to speed up air monitoring in Compton, based on the AQMD’s preliminary findings. She also requested the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services test community residents for chromium 6 and other toxins.
“We need to immediately step in and test the air to make sure we’re not allowing these facilities to poison our communities,” she said.
Barragán has also asked Gov. Jerry Brown, the state legislature and the state Air Resources Board to provide emergency funding to support the AQMD’s monitoring efforts.