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Chromium-6 levels spike in Long Beach, Paramount

Air officials have reported a spike of toxic chromium-6 in an area of North Long Beach, flagged by electronic monitors installed in the aftermath of air-quality concerns in Paramount.

The known carcinogen, found in metal finishing and other manufacturing processes, registered at levels as high as 148 times above normal at 22 monitoring stations installed in Long Beach and Paramount by South Coast Air Quality Management District regulators.

Research has linked long-term exposure to the ordorless substance to lung cancer and other aliments.

“Everybody is upset about this latest turn of events,” said Mayor Peggy Lemons of Paramount, a city whose metal-processing companies set off regulators’ worries after high levels of chromium-6 were discovered last year.

District lawyers filed an administrative petition Friday against Lubeco Inc, a family-owned metal-finishing company in Long Beach, just across the border from Paramount. Representatives from Lubeco could not be reached for comment.

The district seeks to stop Lubeco’s owners from emitting hexavalent chromium or shut down the processes that release the substance. The business, which makes parts for the aerospace industry, is adjacent to homes and an elementary school.

Lubeco, located at 6859 Downey Avenue, is the third business targeted by the district in less than a year for releasing chromium 6.

The company coats and “anodizes” metal parts, which builds resistance to corrosion and helps paints and glues stick better.

Between May 13 and July 12, the district found that levels of chromium-6 around the company were 18 times normal. Inspectors also said proper emission controls were not installed at the site, according to an administrative petition filed with the district’s hearing board.

“If (the levels of chromium-6 are) higher than what’s safe, then we all need to be concerned about it,” said City Councilman Rex Richardson of Long Beach’s District 9, where the company operates.

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