COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The Environmental Working Group says chromium-6, a cancer causing chemical that was featured in the movie “Erin Brockovich,” has been found in several central Ohio drinking water systems.
According to EWG, an independent advocacy group, chromium-6, or hexavalent chromium, caused cancer in laboratory rats and mice. The group says testing, which was conducted between 2013-2015, showed that nearly 218 million American’s water supply contained more chromium-6 than what was deemed safe.
The group found chromium-6 in many drinking water systems across Ohio, including Franklin, Crawford, Delaware, Fayette, Licking, Knox, Marion, Union, and Marion counties.
An interactive map of the country on the group’s website shows that in Franklin County, all five water systems tested positive for chromium-6 with an average of 0.203 ppb and ranged up to .0.460ppb. Columbus Dept. of Public Utilities had the ninth highest average levels of chromium-6 in the country at 0.207.
The Columbus Department of Public Utilities denies the accuracy of the information being put out by the Environmental Working Group. It says it performs tens of thousands of tests each year to ensure drinking water quality is safe.
Columbus says Hexavalent Chromium is not currently regulated by the US Environmental Protection Agency. It also says its own testing done in 2014 found its highest UCMR3 results for Hexavalent Chromium were 0.35 ppb from the entry point and distribution samples.
California is the only state to have a maximum contaminant level for Hexavalent Chromium. The state limit is 10 parts per billion, though the state’s public health goal for hexavalent chromium is 0.02 parts per billion.
“Whether it is chromium-6, PFOA or lead, the public is looking down the barrel of a serious water crisis across the country that has been building for decades,” Brockovich said in a written statement Tuesday, blaming it on “corruption, complacency and utter incompetence.”
The Ohio EPA released the following statement:
This report was issued by an alarmist advocacy group not affiliated with the federal or state EPA. There is no national standard or health advisory level for Chromium-6; there is a national standard for total chromium, which is 100 ppb. California established a state specific level of 10 ppb. All systems in Ohio tested below California’s standard of 10 ppb. Ohio EPA’s data shows that the highest level of chromium 6 in Ohio was a third of that number; most sample results are below 1 ppb, generally indicating that the source may be naturally occurring.
U.S. EPA is conducting a national scientific review of this chemical, which Ohio is participating in. If U.S. EPA sets a national health standard for drinking water, Ohio will move quickly to adopt this standard to protect Ohioans.
Chromium is a naturally occurring element found in rocks, animals, plants, soil and volcanic dust and gases, according to the National Toxicology Program.
According to PBS, there are filters you can buy to remove chromium-6, with the most effective being with an ion exchange water treatment unit.
It is noted that in the EWG’s report, Fairfield, Pickaway, Ross, Pike, Logan and Champaign counties all had safe levels of chromium-6 in the water drinking systems.