WASHINGTON (NEWS10) – According to environmental advocacy group EWG, a carcinogenic chemical called chromium-6 was found in the tap water of two-thirds of Americans at levels above what scientists say is safe.
The EPA collected more than 60,000 water samples from local water facilities between 2013 and 2015. The EPA found chromium-6 in more than 75 percent of the samples.
Chromium-6 is used in steel production, chrome plating, and to lower the temperature in electrical power plants’ cooling towers. EWG says inhaling airborne chromium-6 particles can cause lung cancer. Ingesting the chemical through tap water is linked to stomach cancer, liver damage, reproductive problems, and harms children’s brain development.
EWG published this interactive map detailing the chromium-6 results by county for all 50 states.
According to EWG, of the major metro areas Phoenix has by far the highest level of contaminant, followed by St. Louis County, Houston, Los Angeles, and Suffolk County, N.Y.
“Houston, we have a problem. More than 20 years ago, we learned that this dangerous chemical poisoned the tap water of California communities, and now these tests and EWG’s report show that roughly 218 million Americans are being served drinking water polluted with potentially dangerous levels of this known carcinogen,” said Erin Brockovich, a consumer advocate whose investigation of deaths and disease in a small desert town brought chromium-6 to national attention.
Brockovich is calling on the EPA and state regulators to set drinking water standards to protect the public, including those more susceptible to the toxic effects of chromium-6.