US orders more testing of chromium-6 in tap water

January 13, 2011
Julia Roberts talks to director Steven Soderbergh during the filming of "Erin Brockovich," which highlighted the problem of hexavalent chromium in US water supplies. The Environmental Protection Agency has asked local US communities to test more carefully for the presence of the chemical, a probable carcinogen.

The Environmental Protection Agency has asked local US communities to test more carefully for hexavalent chromium, a probable carcinogen.

After preliminary health studies, the EPA opted Wednesday to class the chemical known as chromium-6 as one likely to cause cancer in humans when ingested over the course of a lifetime.

It adopted a rule of a maximum 0.1 milligrams per liter (100 parts per billion), and urged managers of water systems with their source in ground water be tested two times a year, versus four times a year for systems with surface water sources.

"EPA's latest data show that no public water systems are in violation of the standard," the agency said in a statement.

Still, a private US environmental group has found that drinking water in many American cities contains hexavalent chromium, The Washington Post reported last month.

The study by the Environmental Working Group -- the first nationwide analysis measuring the presence of the chemical in US water systems -- found hexavalent chromium in the tap water of 31 out of 35 cities sampled.

Of those, 25 had levels that exceeded the goal proposed in California, which has been aggressively trying to reduce the chemical in its water supply.

Hexavalent chromium has long been known to cause when inhaled, and scientists recently found evidence that it causes cancer in laboratory animals when ingested. It has been linked to liver and in animals, as well as leukemia, and other cancers.

A widely used industrial chemical until the early 1990s, hexavalent chromium is still used in some industries, including chrome plating and the manufacturing of plastics and dyes. The chemical can also leach into groundwater from natural ores.

The was first made famous in the hit 2000 Hollywood movie "Erin Brockovich" about the eponymous environmental crusader.

Explore further: US water has large amounts of likely carcinogen: study

Related Stories

Removal of hexavalent chromium from your drinking water

December 22, 2010

The only way to learn if your water source has hexavalent chromium is to check with your public water supplier and request a water quality report, said NJIT Professor Taha Marhaba, a civil/environmental engineer. Most municipal ...

Percolating a solution to hexavalent chromium

October 12, 2010

The metal chromium is an essential nutrient for plant and animal metabolism, but it can accumulate to toxic and hazardous levels in the environment when discharged in industrial waste water; a point made infamous by the movie ...

Chromium health risk study not disclosed

February 24, 2006

Researchers at George Washington University say scientists working for the chromium industry withheld information on the metal's possible health risks.

Groundwater Cleanup at Superfund Site

February 8, 2010

( -- A chain of chemical reactions between organic waste and naturally occurring chromium appears to explain the long-standing elevated levels of the chemical chromium-6, a human carcinogen, in groundwater at ...

Recommended for you

Maximizing the environmental benefits of autonomous vehicles

February 15, 2018

The added weight, electricity demand and aerodynamic drag of the sensors and computers used in autonomous vehicles are significant contributors to their lifetime energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

5 / 5 (1) Jan 13, 2011
My doctor daughter asked a wonderful question; "What is the appropriate cost to halve an already small health risk?" A generic homeowner's water quality test costs ~US$100. How much will Cr+6 testing cost on the margin? What will the individual do about it? (My supplier does not offer a Cr-testing kit.)

Chromium is the twenty-first most abundant element on Earth, with an average concentration of (!) 100 ppm.

This is an "Environmental Working Group" hysteria and power grab.
1 / 5 (1) Jan 13, 2011
Gosh, didn't this very site just publish an article last month that showed that Hinckley, CA, whose power company was mau-maued out of $300 million by profuse display of Brockovich's faux ta-tas, had absolutely no incidence of cancer whatsoever outside the norm? Maybe they can get that vaccine doc from Euro to testify for them. I hear he's out of work right now.

Chromium 6 is right up there on the "probable carcinogen" list with Alar, and Saccharine, and Aspartame, and...

Oh, wait...
3 / 5 (2) Jan 13, 2011
@d-huffman....the question is who answers your obviously could care less what actual scientist using the scientific method for your "supplier"...find a new one......i say we text C-6 on your kids...or parents which ever you have...since you know...its prolly just "This is an "Environmental Working Group" hysteria and power grab"..hahaha i bet you'd change your tune real quick. go read a book
5 / 5 (1) Jan 13, 2011
Adapt or die. Includes doing the best you can with what you have about what you actually know.
not rated yet Jan 28, 2011
There are some great water filters we can use to purifier our own tap water and have safe good tasting drinking water in our home. Google "uvcindex water" to see and learn about your options.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.