23 December 2010, U.S. – Hexavalent Chromium, the chemical most people heard about in the “Erin Brockovich” movie for the first time ever, has been found in the drinking water of 31 cities across the U.S from an independent sampling survey. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is strongly encouraging the nation’s water facilities to test for this probable carcinogen.
The EPA is not making testing mandatoty. Rather, it is guiding facilities how to test for haxavalent chromium and giving technical help to the 31 cities that are affected.
It seems many laboratories that do standard testing for water companies are not equipped to administer the more sophisticated tests.
At present, there is no government regulation limiting its presence in the drinking water. The EPA is looking into scientific findings to see whether it does in fact pose a threat to the public. We should expect a conclusion by the summer.
The survey was performed in 35 cities around the country. Hexavalent Chromium, also known as Chromium 6, was present in 31 cities, 25 with levels above a public health goal that was proposed by the state of California last year.
Hexavalent chromium does cause cancer if it is inhaled. What is not known is if it causes cancer when ingested. Past research has found it to be the case in animals but not humans.
The EPA issued the following press release on Tuesday:
“EPA absolutely has a drinking water standard for total chromium, which includes chromium-6 (also known as Hexavalent Chromium), and we require water systems to test for it. This standard is based on the best available science and is enforceable by law. Ensuring safe drinking water for all Americans is a top priority for EPA. The agency regularly re-evaluates drinking water standards and, based on new science on chromium-6, had already begun a rigorous and comprehensive review of its health effects. In September, we released a draft of that scientific review for public comment. When this human health assessment is finalized in 2011, EPA will carefully review the conclusions and consider all relevant information, including the Environmental Working Group’s study, to determine if a new standard needs to be set.”