Chromium in Drinking Water

Chromium is a mineral which is widespread in nature.  It is odorless and tasteless. Chromium is found naturally in rocks, plants, soil and volcanic dust, humans and animals.

There are two relatively common forms of Chromium – chromium 3 (trivalent chromium) occurs naturally in many vegetables, fruits, meats, grains and yeast, and chromium 6 (hexavalent chromium) which is generally a by-product of steel and pulp and paper mills, and of course many of us remember the “chrome” on bumper guards, grills and other parts of the 1950’s cars.

 Both chromium 3 and hexavalent chromium can find their way into drinking water supplies, sometimes naturally but other times due to leakage, seepage, poor storage or improper disposal.

The problem is that while some people use chromium 3 in various health-related remedies and supplements, hexavalent chromium is another story.  Hexavalent chromium has been shown to be a carcinogen in a limited number of studies.  It’s most famous for the role it played in Erin Brockovich's crusade against Pacific Gas and Electric Company, which was accused of contaminating the drinking water of Hinkley, Calif.

Earlier this week the Environmental Working Group released a report on its study of drinking water in 35 cities across the USA.  31 of the 35 cities evaluated were found to have detectable levels of hexavalent chromium.  Norman, Oklahoma, was found to be the most seriously contaminated with a concentration of 12.9 parts per billion of hexavalent chromium in the municipal.  Other cities on the list were Tallahassee, FL (1.25 ppb); Omaha, NE (1.07); Albuquerque, NM (1.04); Pittsburgh, PA (0.88); Bend, OR (0.78); Salt Lake City, UT (0.30); Ann Arbor, MI (0.21); Atlanta, GA (0.20); Los Angeles, CA (0.20); Bethesda, MD (0.19); Phoenix, AZ(0.19); Washington, DC (0.19); Chicago, IL (0.18); Milwaukee, WI (0.18); Villanova, PA (0.18); Sacramento, CA (0.16); Louisville, KY (0.14); Syracuse, NY (0.12); New Haven, CT (0.08); and Buffalo, NY (0.07).

The Environmental Working Group made a statement “At least 74 million people in 42 states drink chromium-polluted water, much of it likely in the cancer-causing hexavalent form.”

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a guideline for total chromium in the water of 100 parts per billion.  Recently California conservationists announced they would push the legislators to establish a limit for hexavalent chromium of 0.6 parts per billion.

Already there is controversy among environmental health groups over whether such a low level of hexavalent chromium which the Environmental Working Group used as its baseline for its conclusions and statements is realistic.  Some experts are saying that 0.6 ppb is too low to cause cancer in humans.

The EPA has issued a statement saying they will be issuing new Maximum Contaminant Levels for Chromium 6 in 2011.  The EPA tries to ensure at what level various contaminants are not unsafe for consumers.  This means that a carcinogen is OK to consume if the levels are low enough.

But why rely on the Government to tell you what level is safe and what level is unsafe?  To me you would be better off taking the initiative yourself to ensure that the water you drink is the purest you can get.  That’s why we are so convinced that distillation is the best treatment method possible.  Distillation is very effective at removing chromium from the water.  For the sake of your family you should put your “best-foot forward” and invest in a well designed water distiller.

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