Carcinogen (Chromium-6) Found In 31 of 35 Cities’ Water Supply

According to a CNN news report: Tap water in 31 of 35 American cities is highly contaminated by hexavalent chromium, otherwise known as chromium-6. That’s according to a new study released today by the Environmental Working Group.

While the dangerous carcinogen may be foreign sounding to most people, perhaps the name Erin Brockovich will ring a bell. After it was discovered that chromium-6 had poisoned the water supply of Hinkley, California, Brockovich helped bring about a lawsuit that ultimately ended in 1996 with the utility company, Pacific Gas & Electric, paying more than $330 million in damages. (See the latest on chromium-6 in Hinkley here.)

Norman, Oklahoma; Honolulu, Hawaii; and Riverside, California top the EWG’s list of cities with water supplies contaminated by chromium-6. Although the Environmental Protection Agency does not require water utilities to test for chromium-6, and has not established a legal threshold for how much can be in our water, the agency has classified the toxic as “likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”

“I was expecting to find hexavalent chromium in some of the cities we checked but I didn’t expect it to be so widespread,” says Rebecca Sutton, a senior scientist with the EWG and the lead author of the study.

Sutton says there is a well-documented corollary between exposure to chromium-6 and a greater risk of stomach cancer in humans. Additionally, there is ample animal evidence showing a broad risk of gastrointestinal tumors in rats and mice exposed to the toxic.

Worse, skipping tap water in favor of bottled water does not guarantee you’ll be protected.

“Bottled water is not necessarily any safer than tap water,” says Sutton. “We just don’t have any guarantee that hexavalent chromium isn’t in that water.”

So how can you protect yourself? Sutton says your best bet is buying an effective water filter.

“Getting the water filter is a great way to protect yourself and your family,” says Sutton. “It’s a step you can take yourself, you don’t have to wait for government action.”

“With the water filter, you actually know you’re removing [hexavalent chromium].”

The Environmental Working Group has a page to identify certified, effective water filters here.

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