Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn recently sent a letter to residents throughout Paramount with an update of the ongoing hexavalent chromium (Cr6) investigation in our community. The City thanks her for this active effort to keep our residents informed. The letter can be read in its entirety here.
City officials have been intensely focused on this issue since it first arose toward the end of last year and have collaborated with a number of local and state agencies to improve the situation. As part of that, Paramount appreciates very much the Supervisor’s engagement. In light of this, the City would like to emphasize and expand upon certain points raised in her letter.
For instance, the letter notes that “Long-term exposure [to Cr6] that is typically measured in decades can increase the likelihood of lung and nasal cancer …” This shows just how important it is to get levels of this metal under control. It is also important to recognize what “long-term exposure” means in relation to high levels of Cr6. While no regulatory agency will provide specific numbers when discussing these health risks, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) has said: “It is the long-term average level that impacts health risks from Cr6 exposure, and not the Cr6 level from a single day or even a handful of select days.”
Proximity, too, is significant. The experts indicate that the long-term exposure must be combined with being in very close vicinity to a “hot spot” or area with a high reading over a long period of time.
Now, a word about the work being done in Paramount by SCAQMD – the agency with legal and regulatory control over air quality in most of Southern California.
As Supervisor Hahn said, “SCAQMD has been conducting investigations to identify the sources and has developed new regulations for stricter pollution controls at metal facilities.” SCAQMD officials, in fact, have stated that the air monitoring and the investigations into pollution in Paramount have been “unprecedented.”
These have led, also, to expanded inquiries and inspections in areas of North Long Beach and Compton, revealing that this is indeed a regional challenge, and not unique to Paramount.
SCAQMD has pointed out that, compared to ongoing regional pollution caused, for example, by diesel vehicles, the Cr6 emissions in Paramount are solvable. Once the sources of high emissions are found, they can be fixed. And this has actually been happening.
The two companies in town that were cited for emitting high levels of Cr6 have kept those levels consistently low since being identified.
In addition, the City has supported new SCAQMD regulations that have resulted in some businesses moving their metal-grinding operations indoors and employing filters and other cleansing devices.
As an investment in both the present and the future, the City itself has undertaken a number of actions to control the Cr6 situation. These include buying air samplers for prolonged monitoring and testing, creating new zoning regulations within a municipality’s legal powers, and starting a pilot program to approve business licenses with input from SCAQMD.
Overall, the work continues until all solutions are achieved. As SCAQMD officials have said, they will be a presence in Paramount for as long as it takes.