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Probable Carcinogen Invades Water Sources

Sounds like it could be the title of a new sci-fi movie right? A title like this cannot and will not be ignored by American consumers. According to one article, 35 cities in the US have traces of hexavalent chromium, a probable carcinogen, as is reported in the Washington Post. In 25 of those cities, the amount of the chemical exceeds government goals which were proposed in California. California has been aggressively and quickly trying to reduce the presence of hexavalent chromium in its water supply. This carcinogen was made famous in the movie Erin Brockovich.

The study was done by the Environmental Working Group and is the first nationwide analysis of this toxic chemical. The group found the presence of the chemical in 31 of 35 different tests in those respective cities and as mentioned previously, 25 of those cities had levels exceeding any propositions. The Environmental Protection Agency is still determining if and what levels should be set for hexavalent chromium in tap water. It was determined to be a probable carcinogen in 2008.

It is reported that hexavalent chromium has been known to cause lung cancer for quite some time when it is inhaled, and more recently, evidence shows it is cancer causing in laboratory animals when ingested. It has also been linked to liver and kidney damage, along with leukemia, stomach cancer, and other cancers when tested on animals. Hexavalent chromium was popularly used in industries in the early 1990s, and is still found in industries creating chrome plating or plastics and dyes. It can get into groundwater from natural sources, making it into tap water.

In California, as was documented in the popular movie listed above, Hinkley was the affected town. But as stated in a document by the Clean Water Fund, “according to the Department of Public Health, from 1997 through 2008 chromium VI was detected in 2,208 California drinking water sources monitored for the contaminant. These sources are spread throughout 52 out of 58 counties, impacting an estimated 33 million Californians.” According to Emagazine, Riverside, California had one of the highest levels out there.

The only true way to find out if your local water source has hexavalent chromium is to check with your local public water supplier and request a water quality report with the quantitative analysis of chemicals or other minerals in your drinking water. Taja Marhaba is a professor and the chair of civil and environmental engineering and director of the New Jersey Applied Water Research Center at NJIT. In one interview in regards to this toxic chemical in drinking water, he stated, “the best way to remove this [hexavalent chromium] and other known and unknown contaminants from the water supply to a residence if to install a five-stage reverse osmosis home unit.”