October is made for things that go bump in the night, but there should be nothing spooky or scary about your drinking water. Yet a recent report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) might be putting a chill down your spine. EWG analyzed federal data from nationwide drinking water tests and found that chromium-6 is present in the water supply of more than 200 million Americans in all 50 states. If the chemical name sounds familiar, it should. Chromium-6 is the chemical Erin Brockovich began a crusade against nearly 25-years ago. Here’s what you need to know about it:
What is Chromium-6
If you look it up on the Periodic Table, you’ll find Chromium is a transition metal. The pure form of chromium is a gray, shiny, hard metal. Chromium-6 is a form of the element also known as hexavalent chromium. It’s used in anti-corrosion and conversion coatings, as well as for chrome plating and a number of industrial processes such as leather tanning, wood preservation and in the production of stainless steel.
What is the risk?
Chromium-6 is a known carcinogen when inhaled. There is some debate as to what level of the chemical becomes alarming in drinking water. The EPA has said that 100 parts per billion is a safe level. This is the current federal standard. Scientists in New Jersey (as well as California and North Carolina) have placed the mark at a much lower level. While NJ has not established a legal limit as of yet, a state agency suggested a public health goal of 0.06 parts per billion. A similar group in California set the public health goal at 0.02. EWG is using the California recommendation as the benchmark for their report. Despite that recommendation, California’s legal standard is not set that low. It does have most strident enforceable standard set at 10 parts per billion.
So, what does this all mean for your tap water? Good question. None of the cities tested in the EWG report exceeded the California legal standard, including those in NJ. On the other hand, a number of NJ samples did exceed the lower public health goals stated in the three states previously mentioned. For a closer look, the Asbury Park Press broke out the results from water companies in Monmouth and Ocean counties here: Chromium-6 in Drinking Water.
What can you do to keep your drinking water safe?
You do have some options. A filter system can remove impurities in the water, including chromium-6. For example, a water cooler with a bottleless water filtration system, like the sort Watchung Beverage Delivery offers to our business clients, converts tap water into clean, great tasting water. These types of water coolers remove all of the common contaminants that can be found in the regular spring water, plus there is no chance of bacteria growing in the system. Another option is to skip the tap altogether and enjoy clean, crisp spring water from your home water cooler. Ordering your water supplies through Watchung gives you the flexibility to select when you would like to receive your order right to your door: how many gallons and how often. Our goal is to make it easier you to live a healthier, better life.