On September 30, 2010, a draft was released by the EPA’s IRIS Program for independent expert peer review and public comment. This draft addresses both non-cancer and cancer health effects associated with the ingestion of Hexavalent Chromium , aka Chromium 6, over a lifetime.
This is the first EPA cancer assessment for Hexavalent Chromium (Chromium 6) by ingestion.
The EPA worked in conjunction with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, California Environmental Protection Agency, and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry on the development of this draft.
New Research on Chromium in Water Sparks Interest
Hexavalent Chromium, as you may remember, is the chemical made famous by the 2000 film “Erin Brockovich”.
The National Toxicology Program, a branch of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, considers Hexavalent Chromium a “probable carcinogen.” In an executive summary, it is stated that:
“Hexavalent Chromium in drinking water shows clear evidence of carcinogenic activity in laboratory animals, increasing the risk of otherwise rare gastrointestinal tumors.
There have also been some other health effects seen in animal studies, such as anemia and damage to the lymph nodes, liver and gastrointestinal tract.”
The Environmental Protection Agency set a total Chromium limit of 100 ppb, or parts per billion, for drinking water. There is no current limit for Chromium 6, and water utility companies are not required to test for it.
California is currently the only state that mandates testing, and that state’s legal limit for Chromium 6 in drinking water is 0.06 ppb.
The recent study by the National Toxicology Program found that 25 of the 31 cities with Chromium 6 drinking water contamination exceeded the limit.
Norman, Oklahoma, the city with the highest concentration of Chromium 6, measured about 200 times that level, with a concentration of about 12 ppb.
How Can You Avoid Chromium 6 in Your Water?
Chromium is considered an inorganic water contaminant. These contaminants normally do not absorb easily through the skin. Chromium, however, has long been shown to cause problems when in it merely comes in contact with skin.
The largest source of exposure, and the basis of this new research, is through drinking water contaminated with Chromium.
Based on potential exposure, there are two water treatment approaches you could take to guarantee safe water in your home:
Ultimate protection comes from treating water as it enters your home. Carbon filters would have ZERO effect on removing Chromium.
A Pureoflow System uses a special membrane that not only softens water without salt, but also removes all other contaminants like Chromium. This approach would give clean drinking water, and protect from inhalation through steam, as well as direct exposure to skin.
Drinking Water Purification
A small under sink Reverse Osmosis system would be a cost effective treatment method for clean drinking water. For as little as $0.05 a gallon, you could have clean water and clear ice cubes.
At some point in 2011 the EPA will either maintain the current standards, or reduce the allowable limits. If Chromium turns out to be like Arsenic, then the limit will most likely drop.
If you would like to see what your options are for better water, sign up for a FREE WATER TEST. Upon testing your water, a specialist can review your options and technologies available to help you.
For a copy of the draft risk assessment and further information about its results, visit EPA’s website at: http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/iris_drafts/recordisplay.cfm?deid=221433