May 20, 2022

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2022/3/1 PFAS

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EWG Report - ‘Erin Brockovich’ Chemical Taints Tap Water Of 251 Million Americans

By Suzanne Forcese

Hexavalent chromium, or chromium-6, is the cancer-causing chemical that poisoned the community of Hinkley, California, made notorious by the 2000 film Erin Brockovich.

In March 2022, The EWG (Environmental Working Group), published an update to their interactive map that shows chromium-6 taints the tap water of 251 million people in the U.S., as well as Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

You can check out EWG’s interactive map here by searching for your ZIP code

Found in groundwater, the pollutant, Chromium-6 is a form of the element chromium that is usually produced by industrial processes but can occur naturally. It is commonly used for anti-corrosion metal coating, wood preservation, and textile dyeing. Natural gas compression stations also use it as an anti-corrosion agent in cooling water.

In 2010, the EPA completed a draft health assessment concluding that relatively low doses of chromium-6 could increase cancer risk. Chronic exposure in drinking water can also damage the liver and reproductive systems; lower the body weight; and delay skeletal development of the offspring of lab animals exposed to the chemical.

Scientists have identified infants, children, and people taking antacids, as well as people with poorly functioning livers, as being at greater risk from chromium-6 exposure.

EWG’s Nneka Leiba tells us “There is no federal limit for chromium-6 in drinking water.”

To understand more, EWG’s Nneka Leiba provides us with this video:


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