It is a little concerning to read the news to have come out of a study that has been conducted for the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has revealed that there are levels of a known carcinogen that are dangerously high in the drinking water of many towns and cities. The carcinogen in question is hexavalent chromium which is produced in a number of industrial situations as well as being a naturally occurring mineral in rocks.
Hexavalent chromium may also be commonly referred to as chromium-6 and it is produced in arc welding, electroplating, stainless steel manufacture and in some paint applications. It has been known to cause higher than normal levels of lung cancer in worker across the industries that produced chromate and it can cause irritation to the skin, the eyes and the throat.
The measurement of the high occurrence of chromium-6 was measured against a proposed safe level that was made by the state of California where anything above 0.06 ppb (parts per billion) is considered carcinogenic. The study by the EWG involved 35 city water supplies and of those that were tested, 31 registered as higher than the California safe level. In fact, the average across all of the tested cities was 0.18 ppb which is three times the proposed safe level.
At this point the EPA is still to provide a standard safe level where the water is safe to drink. It was going to be scientifically studied with a decision to be made some time in 2011. With the results of this study now published and the media exposure that has followed, not to mention the involvement of a couple of US senators, one would think that the legal levels of chromium-6 in drinking water will become more of a priority.
Personal water filtration may be an option to take if you want to take matters into your own hands and are prepared to spend the $300 plus that it costs to buy a reverse osmosis water filtration system. These systems are effective at removing over 99% of minerals from the water and are the types of units that are used in industrial sizes for the purification of seawater into drinking water.
Apparently (and I am only going on what sales paraphernalia have stated) a reverse osmosis filter will be effective in removing just about all of the hexavalent chromium from the water.
Before everyone goes into a mad panic and fears that they are going to develop cancer form the water, it is prudent to remember that the safe level that has been quoted is only a proposed level. There is so far no scientific evidence to back up the possibility that the levels found in water supplies will be detrimental to the health.