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24th September 2016
By: Michelle Schoffro Cook
September 22, 2016

If youve watched the movie Erin Brokovich about the real-life renowned consumer advocate, Im sure you were outraged at the power company that contaminated the drinking water of innocent people with a serious carcinogen. And, if you were like me, you were probably on the edge of your seat furious over the injustice at the expense of human lives.

Well, you might want to brace yourself: a new study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that 218 million Americans in every state are drinking water contaminated with the same chemical known as chromium-6 that Ms. Brokovich fought against years ago. And, it poisons them every time they turn on their tap, shower or draw a bath. And this number is likely low because the water from wells and private water sources were largely excluded from the water samples tested.

Find out if your water is contaminated by the carcinogen by checking out the EWG interactive map, highlighting areas where the water contains excessive amounts of chromium-6. The state of California set a public health goal of a maximum of 0.02 parts per billion of chromium-6 in tap water, an amount that scientists determined would cause negligible risk (not no risk, but would minimize the risk). However, lobbying by industry and water utility companies encouraged state regulators to adopt a legal limit of 500 times that amount beginning in 2014. While the 0.02 parts per billion is a public health goal based in scientific research it has not been legally enforceable to date.

Also known as hexavalent chromium, the National Toxicology Program found that the toxin caused cancer in animal studies. Other studies by the states of California, North Carolina and New Jersey found the same cancer-causing effect in humans.

Based on a Senate hearing and the resulting orders of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) utility companies took more than 60,000 samples of drinking water between the years 2013 to 2015 and found chromium-6 in more than 75 percent of them. Thats both shocking and alarming. And, sadly many home water filtration systems do not remove chromium-6 so youll need to do a little exploration before purchasing water filtration systems and before considering yourself safe from this toxic substance. To assist with that matter, check out PBS documentary on chromium-6 including information on how to eliminate it from your water.

Instead of ordering utility companies to test the water theyve contaminated maybe it is time to get back to their core responsibility of regulating toxic chemicals and preventing widespread public health issues such as the chromium-6 one were now facing. And, maybe if an ethical person is involved in these utility companies at an executive level perhaps he or she could stand up and make a decision based on ethics rather than profits and cutting corners.

Based on the EWGs estimates, if left in its current state this excessive level of chromium-6 is expected to cause an additional 12,000 cases of cancer, over and above cancer linked to other sources. Before 12,000 innocent people contract cancer at the hands of an unscrupulous industry and negligent and incompetent government, its time for some serious action.