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Health Risks of Chromium 6 in Drinking Water

Yes, the Berkey Water Filters will remove chromium 6 from tap water at levels greater than 99.9%.

Many of us have seen the movie ‘Erin Brockovich’ with Julia Roberts, depicting the story of the residents of Hinkley village in California who won $333 million settlement from Pacific and Electric Co. in 1966. The company contaminated their tap water with chromium 6 (hexavalent chromium), which resulted in numerous cases of cancer.

High concentration of chromium in water was also recorded in Cameron (Missouri). The residents believed it was caused by contaminated fertilizer that was distributed to farmers for free. The contamination caused several cases of brain tumors in the town and the lawsuit is still on.

Recent drinking water tests have shown that the problem of contaminated drinking water with chromium 6 is much more widespread. Laboratory tests carried out in 2009 have revealed the presence of chromium-6 in tap water in 31 out of 35 cities in the United States. The highest levels were recorded in Norman (Oklahoma), Honolulu (Hawaii) and Riverside (California).

Chromium 6 (hexavalent chromium) is a highly toxic form of metal chromium that occurs naturally on the earth. Pulp and steel mills, leather-tanning facilities and metal-plating factories can pollute water with hexavalent chromium. Cooling towers disposed before 1990 can also contain the contaminant. Chromium 6 can also get into water through erosion of rock and soil. Chlorine, a commonly used solution for disinfecting tap water, can convert safe trivalent chromium into the harmful hexavalent form.

Experiments carried out on animal models have shown that exposure to chromium 6 in drinking water may lead to anemia, damage to liver, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract and lymph nodes and teeth damage. It also increases significantly risks of gastrointestinal cancer. Present in high amounts, chromium 6 can cause birth defects, respiratory problems and infertility.

Children and babies are particularly vulnerable as they are more sensitive to carcinogenic substances. People with less acidic stomach have difficulties transforming hexavalent chromium-6 into chromium-3 (nutrient form of chromium) and are therefore more exposed to the risk of cancer. Those suffering from mucolipidosis type IV, pancreatic tumors and some autoimmune diseases are also in the higher risk group.

Despite the mounting evidence of chromium presence in drinking water resources and its harmful effects on human health, the problem has not been fully recognized by the state and federal regulatory bodies. Presently, California is the only state that requires water facilities testing for hexavalent chromium. The state officials set a target for chromium 6 at 0.02 part per billion (ppb) in order to prevent residents from the risk of cancer.

In response to the growing public concern, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established a regulatory limit for total chromium to 100 ppb as a precautionary measure of protection against skin reactions or irritation (‘allergic dermatitis’). The total chromium includes both the essential for human health trivalent chromium (it regulates metabolism, insulin and blood sugar level) and the carcinogenic chromium 6. It is worth to mentioning that in the tested wells, the majority of the total chromium was in the hexavalent form not the beneficial trivalent chromium.

According to some environmental watchdog organizations, the limit set by the EPA is too high and does not protect communities from exposure to chromium in their drinking water and against the risk of cancer. Recently, the US National Cancer Institute estimated that 41% of Americans will be diagnosed with a tumor during their lifetimes and 21% of them will die of cancer. In 2009 alone, about 1.5 million people were diagnosed. In face of such statistics, California health officials do not seem to be overprotective with their efforts to minimize the residents’ exposure to carcinogenic agents.

To check if chromium has been recorded in your water tap you can contact your local water utility. If your water contains high level of chromium the best way to protect you and your family is to install a water filter tested to remove the contaminant.  The Berkey Water Filters will remove chromium 6 from tap water at levels greater than 99.9%. You can have peace of mind with the berkey water filter knowing that it is not only removing chromium 6 from your water, but many other contaminants including fluoride.

One thought on “Health Risks of Chromium 6 in Drinking Water”

  • Jennifer Widener

    Belmont, nc residents that live near coal ash the water is bad and our govonor worked as a lawyer for 27 years for duke energy and he want lawyers access their records so we can use that information for our homes and health concerns. Our govonor in nc is a criminal

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