Toxic hexavalent chromium tested to be present in the tap water of 218 million Americans

The cancer-causing toxin made notorious by Erin Brokovich is a much bigger threat than that movie showed it to be. A Natural Health 365 article reported that hexavalent chromium isn’t just limited to the water supply of a small town in California; it threatens the health of hundreds of millions of Americans.

Following an evaluation of more than 60,000 sources of tap water throughout the United States, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) confirmed the significant presence of the chemical in most of those sources. Up to 218 million people are using heavily-contaminated water.

Hexavalent chromium is one of the two most common forms of chromium. The other form of the element is trivalent chromium, a trace mineral and nutrient that is considered to be harmless or even beneficial to humans.

In comparison, hexavalent chromium comes from electroplating, leather tanning, and other industrial treatments. It is also used by artificial dyes, synthetic pigments, and the coolant water inside the cooling towers of electric power plants. It is not what you would call benign. (Related: What’s in your water: 6 Reasons why you should never drink from the tap.)

Hexavalent chromium causes many cancers, but isn’t legally regulated

Hexavalent chromium counts as a heavy metal. Its particles can cause lung cancer once inhaled. If absorbed through contaminated water, it can cause stomach cancer and other types of the disease. It is especially dangerous to fetuses, infants, and children.

There are federally-defined limits for airborne hexavalent chromium in workplaces. The EPA has also set a limit of 100 parts per billion (ppb) in drinking water; however, the EPA limit is for trivalent chromium only.

There are no federal laws and only one state law that places legal limits on the amount of hexavalent chromium in drinking water. And the California-only limit of 10 ppb is still considered to be too dangerous for consumption.

The federal safe limits are very outdated, having been set up in 1991. They also only focused on trivalent chromium in drinking water. Finally, they failed to realize that water tainted with hexavalent chromium can cause cancer.

The Safe Drinking Water Act was amended in 1996. However, the lawmakers did not add new regulations for hexavalent chromium or other previously-unregulated toxins in the water.

The federal government did order tests for 81 new contaminants. However, as of the time of this writing, only one contaminant has been set. And it is not hexavalent chromium.

Chemical and power industries want to protect this cancerous chemical

Back in 2011, the EPA was working on a health assessment for hexavalent chromium. The new assessment would have finally determined the safe and legal limit of the metal in tap water.

However, the assessment has been held up indefinitely. The EWG blamed the chemical and electric power industries for this perpetual delay. The two industries supposedly funded their own studies and asked the EPA to wait for their results, but those studies have never been released, either.

Meanwhile, the EWG has released a map of the hexavalent chromium levels in the United States. The data for this map came from water quality tests held by local water utilities on behalf of the EPA.

If you live in an area that has contaminated drinking water, do not consume water straight from the tap. Instead, install the most effective water filter you can afford.

An efficient water filtration system can remove hexavalent chromium and other dangerous impurities from tap water. Tests have shown that a Berkey filter can remove more than 99 percent of harmful chromium from the water.

Find out how you can remove hexavalent chromium from your drinking water supply at

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