ARB Issues Notice of High Chromium Emissions in San Diego Neighborhood
SACRAMENTO – The California Environmental Protection Agency's Air Resources Board (ARB) and the San Diego Air Pollution Control District (SDAPCD) have notified San Diego public health officials that high levels of hexavalent chromium were detected near two San Diego chromium plating companies.
Hexavalent chromium is a toxic air pollutant that can increase the risk of cancer even at very low levels. It was identified by the ARB as a toxic air contaminant in 1986. The ARB adopted a statewide control measure in 1988 that requires small, medium, and large metal plating or anodizing businesses to strictly control emissions hexavalent chromium. Those rules require all chromium plating facilities in California to reduce emissions by at least 95 percent.
ARB Executive Officer Michael Kenny said, "These high levels of chromium are cause for concern. This information further illustrates the need for the ARB and the San Diego Air Pollution Control District to work together to determine their cause and to take actions to protect Californians who live and work around these facilities."
The ARB conducted the chromium monitoring program that detected the unexpected levels of hexavalent chromium near the Carlson & Beauloye and Master Plating chrome plating facilities located in the Barrio Logan area. The sampling for hexavalent chromium was conducted for 13 days at six sampling sites within 200 feet of the facilities during December 2001. Of the 87 samples collected, 29 samples had values above the limit of detection. If the average level observed during the two week sampling period continued for a lifetime, nearby residents could experience an increase in the risk of cancer of approximately 150 per million persons exposed. This assumes that a person is breathing this level for 24 hours a day for 70 years.
The ARB and the SDAPCD are committed to find out why the levels of hexavalent chromium are elevated near these two metal plating operations. The ARB and the SDAPCD are taking immediate action to investigate the problem by:
- conducting joint inspections to establish if these metal plating operations are operating their pollution control equipment in compliance with state and local laws and regulations
- conducting tests to determine the amount of hexavalent chromium being released into the air
- conducting additional air monitoring near these two facilities
Once the cause of the high levels of hexavalent chromium is determined, the SDAPCD will be the lead agency to determine what steps are needed to lower emissions and exposures.
"Levels of hexavalent chromium this high should not continue and we're concerned that long-term exposure to these levels can result in serious public health risks," said Richard Sommerville, San Diego's Air Pollution Control Officer.
For more information about the ARB's toxics program, click here.