UL Expands Water Testing Capabilities to Detect Chromium-6

Underwriters Laboratories Inc. is now offering municipalities and customers across the country access to its globally recognized testing and certification services to detect Chromium-6, also known as hexavalent chromium, in drinking water supplies.

Through an investment in new technology and personnel training, UL has begun testing water samples using EPA Method 218.6 revision 3.3, which allows for a minimum reporting limit of 0.02 ppb. The company also offers a low-level testing option for total chromium to 0.1 ppb by EPA Method 200.8. Using these two analytical methods, UL is helping utilities better understand the affect total chromium has on formation of hexavalent chromium in their water systems.

The chemical may be more widespread than previously believed, as suggested by a recent study from the Environmental Working Group which tested tap water in 35 cities and found chromium-6 in 31 of them. To assess potential hazards, EPA issued new recommendations for monitoring the chemical, which is subject to a total chromium limit of 100 ppb for drinking water. However, there is no federal testing mandate and limit for chromium-6 in drinking water, so very few labs have capability to test for the chemical at such low levels.

UL is leveraging its safety expertise to help its customers prepare if a new limit is established later this year. Based on new science, and as mandated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, the EPA launched a review of the effects of chromium-6 on human health to determine if a revised standard needs to be set. It is expected that the scientific assessment will be finalized before the end of 2011.

"I'm excited that UL is now one of the few trusted laboratories offering enhanced capabilities in this area," said Hank Lambert, general manager of UL Global Food and Water Businesses. "Our goal as a business is to bring safe, clean drinking water to people around the world and this new investment directly supports our mission."

UL has analyzed more than two million drinking water samples for thousands of public and private entities, including EPA. UL tests water representing more than 7,000 municipalities and is certified in 49 states and Puerto Rico. The company is also ANSI accredited to certify water products and is also an approved certifier of water products that meet the criteria of the EPA's WaterSense program, which identifies and promotes the use of water-efficient products.

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