Is There Chromium-6 in My Drinking Water?

Good Morning.

Last post I talked a little bit about who Erin Brockovich is and what she has to do with chromium-6.

I wrote that article because chromium-6 is back in the news today, and in a fairly significant way.

In an article by Susan Scutti, CNN, it is pointed out that dangerous levels of chromium-6 are contaminating water consumed by hundreds of millions of Americans, according to a national report released on September 20, 2016.

Chromium-6 has been anecdotally referred to as the “Erin Brockovich chemical” because the carcinogenic chemical was featured in the popular 2000 movie titled “Erin Brockovich.”

The report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an independent advocacy group, examines evidence from water systems throughout the nation and concludes that the tap water of 218 million Americans contain levels of chromium-6 that the group considers dangerous.

What is Chromium-6?

Chromium is a naturally occurring element found in rocks, animals, plants, soil and volcanic dust and gases, according to the National Toxicology Program.

It comes in several forms, including chromium-3, an essential nutrient for the body, and chromium-6, which is rare in nature.

Chromium-6 is produced by industrial processes.  It is used in electroplating, stainless steel production, leather tanning, textile manufacturing, wood preservation and more.

In 2008, a two year study by the National Toxicology Program found that drinking water with chromium-6 caused cancer in laboratory rats and mice.

Research has linked chromium-6, which is created when chromium oxidizes, to stomach cancer.  And the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported in a draft assessment in 2010 that chromium-6 is likely to be carcinogenic to humans.

California Sets a Standard For Chromium-6

In 2006, California regulators adopted a legal limit of 10 parts per billion in tap water: 500 times higher than the public health goal established by scientists.

California is the only state that established a limit specifically for chromium-6, according to the Environmental Working Group.

This goal, and it is only a goal, is much more restrictive than the EPA  total chromium-6 limit which is 100 parts per billion for all forms of chromium.

Phoenix = 400 times California Health goal

According to an article in USA Today, the average water sample in Phoenix had the highest level of the toxin among water utilities nationwide serving more than 1 million customers, with almost 400 times the amount of chromium-6 that California scientists set as a health goal.

A Much Smaller Amount Reaches the Customer’s Tap

The high amount does not represent the levels of chromium-6 that customers drink, according  to a Phoenix city water official.

Samples from city wells had the highest levels of the contaminant but contribute a small fraction to the tap, said Susan Kindale, a Phoenix civil engineer.  Taking this into consideration, chromium-6 levels in Phoenix drinking water are on average about 20 times the California goal.

Review By EPA

The EPA has reportedly released a statement saying that the EPA is working on a “comprehensive evaluation of potential health effects” of chromium-6.  A draft assessment will be released for public comment in 2017, the agency expects.

After researching these reports and the EPA plan for evaluation, it appears to me that not enough is known, at this point, to consider chromium-6, safe to consume, and, if anything, potentially dangerous and very possibly is currently dangerous to our health.

Who is Most at Risk of Serious Health Risk Due to Chromium-6?

Again, any dangerous or potentially dangerous contaminant in our drinking water is going to affect first; children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with weaker immune systems.



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