Chromium-6 Is Widespread in US Tap Water

December 20, 2010

WASHINGTON — A new study commissioned by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that tap water in 31 of 35 American cities is highly contaminated with hexavalent chromium, according to a press release.

The highest levels were in Norman, Okla.; Honolulu, Hawaii; and Riverside, Calif.

In all, water samples from 25 cities contained the toxic metal at concentrations above the safe maximum recently proposed by California regulators, the release stated.

The National Toxicology Program has concluded that hexavalent chromium (also called chromium-6) in drinking water shows “clear evidence of carcinogenic activity” in laboratory animals, increasing the risk of gastrointestinal tumors.

In September 2010, a draft toxicological review by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) similarly found that hexavalent chromium in tap water is “likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”

At least 74 million Americans in 42 states drink chromium-polluted tap water, much of it likely in the cancer-causing hexavalent form, according to the release.

In light of the study’s findings, EWG has urged EPA to move expeditiously to establish a legal limit for chromium-6 and require public water suppliers to test for it.

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