What is Chromium 6 and is it in my water?
Chromium 6 is a heavy metal that is categorized as a Group 1 carcinogen according to the World Health Organization or WHO. It is a by-product of industrial manufacturing and is known to cause cancer in what is considered extremely small concentrations. More on this later.
This is the same heavy metal that Erin Brockovich brought attention to with her 2000 movie starring Julia Roberts that documented the poisoning of Hinkley, CA with Chromium 6.
The alarming study released late 2016 by the Environmental Working Group or “EWG” took samples from 60,000 sources nationwide and found that 75% of them contained a measurable amount of Hexavalent Chromium was not filtered. This is also commonly referred to as Chromium 6 (Chromium VI). This means that 218 million Americans are affected by this issue. While the mere presence of the Chromium 6 is problematic and alarming, it’s really the concentrations at which it is toxic which pose the greatest challenge to consumers health.
The substance is extremely toxic at very, very low levels. So low that California scientists have labeled Chromium 6 dangerous when it exceeds just 0.02 parts per billion. Yes, that is parts per Billion not Million. One part per billion (ppb) equates to 1 part per every 1,000,000,000 parts. For a frame of reference, one part per billion is roughly equal to about one drop of water in an Olympic sized swimming pool. It’s practically nothing, but the research shows that there really isn’t a safe amount of Chromium VI in your water.
Scientific research from a two-year study done by the National Toxicology Program (2008) found that drinking water with Chromium 6 caused cancer in the test subjects. So far, California is the only state to have a public health goal and an enforceable legal limit on this highly toxic, cancer-causing compound. However, the limit is set at 500 times what the researchers have declared as the health goal. That means there could be many times what is considered “safe” before they ever get close to the limit of what is acceptable for you to drink according to tap water regulations.
It should be noted that while Chromium 6 is something so potent and dangerous to your health it has no perceptible smell or odor, no taste and no visible signs of its presence. You can only tell if your water is affected by sophisticated laboratory testing procedures at a certified water quality lab. This contributes to part of the problem as most all of the consumers drinking the tap water have no practical way of measuring Chromium concentrations. The truth is you could be drinking it right now and have absolutely no idea.
Here is the map published by the EWG which shows the counties affected by Chromium in their tap water from the samples they obtained. Click here to search to see if your area is affected (please note that this doesn't mean it will not be affected in the future!).
This leads many Americans to ask the question: Why aren’t we doing more as a country to deliver our drinking water? That’s a good question. The answer has to do with the cost and technical feasibility of performing the proper filtration to target the contaminants. That is to say, it’s far too many gallons and costs too much to remove it on a nation-wide level. So the result is they don’t do anything about it and it continues to flow from the polluted water source into your pipes in your home or apartment and it becomes the water you drink. That is, unless you do something about it!