IBWA Letter to LA County Supervisor on Chromium 6

IBWA Letter to LA County Supervisor on Chromium 6

August 15, 2002


Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich

County of Los Angeles, Fifth District

869 Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration

500 West Temple Street

Los Angeles, CA 90012


Subject: KCOP (Channel 13) Newscast on Bottled Water Study, July 31, 2002


Dear Supervisor Antonovich:


The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA)* is writing to express our confusion with a recent newscast on bottled water by KCOP (Channel 13) on July 31, 2002. In the newscast, you were quoted as citing The Report on Chromium, Arsenic and Lead in Bottled Water 2001 Pilot Study (the Report) which was prepared by the Los Angeles County’s Environmental Toxicology Bureau (Bureau), as evidence for “giving counties authority to enforce bottled water purity standards”.

You may not be aware that the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) repealed its public health goal (PHG) for chromium in drinking water on November 9, 2001. Attached for your information is a copy of the OEHHA Notice of repeal. In reviewing the data on chromium 6, the Chromate Toxicity Review Committee of OEHHA stated, “We found no basis in either the epidemiological or animal data published in the literature for concluding that orally ingested Cr(VI) is a carcinogen, and a relatively large number of negative studies by the oral route of exposure, even at concentrations in excess of current MCLs.” The Committee concluded that the current California MCL for total chromium of 50 ppb should be deemed protective of human health. OEHHA is expected to issue a PHG for chromium 6, rather than total chromium, in 2003.

In September 2001, IBWA provided you with a technical analysis of the Report that demonstrated a number of deficiencies and errors with both the Report’s analysis and its portrayal of bottled water. For your reference, I have included another copy of this IBWA Technical Analysis and Executive Summary. The Report shows that all bottled water tested well below the standards for all regulated elements. In addition, nowhere in the Report is there any data to indicate a public health risk from the bottled water tested.

Bottled water is fully regulated as a packaged food product by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and bound by FDA’s standards of identity, safety, inspection, enforcement and labeling requirements. In addition to these types of regulations for bottled water, FDA regulations establish standards of quality (SOQ) for bottled water. . Under the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1996, the standards of quality for bottled water can be no less stringent than the public drinking water standards. The California Department of Health Services, Food and Drug Branch, regulates bottled water as a food under the Sherman Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and the California Health and Safety Code for bottled water. At the state and federal level, bottled water is required to undergo extensive testing on a weekly, monthly and annual basis to demonstrate compliance with stringent quality standards. If a product does not meet the regulatory standards, including labeling, good manufacturing practices, safety and quality, the product is subject to a full array of enforcement actions, including warning letters, product recalls, civil (seizure and/or injunction) and criminal penalties.

IBWA is committed to working with state and federal governments, in concert with the IBWA Model Code, to set stringent bottled water standards for safe, high quality products. IBWA requires all member bottlers to comply with the IBWA Model Code provisions and submit to annual unannounced inspections by an independent third party as a condition of membership. As you can see, the residents of Los Angeles County can rely on the bottled water industry for consistent safety, quality and good taste.

In an effort to set the record straight, IBWA would like to arrange a meeting with you and members of the California Bottled Water Association (CBWA). We are very concerned with the various inaccuracies in the Report and the proposal to grant the County authority over bottled water. As you may or may not know, the bottled water industry has a significant presence in Southern California, employing over 1,000 people.

We look forward to hearing from you on possible meeting times. If you have any questions or need more information on the bottled water industry in the interim, please do not hesitate to contact IBWA.



Patrick Donoho

Vice President of Government Relations


Executive Summary of IBWA Analysis

IBWA Analysis of the Los Angeles County Report on Bottled Water

OEHHA Notice of Repeal of Chromium Standard


*IBWA is the trade association representing all segments of the bottled water industry. Our member companies produce and distribute about 80% of the bottled water sold in the United States. The association membership includes domestic and international bottlers and distributors.


©2002 International Bottled Water Association