Remember the Oscar-winning movie Erin Brokovich? It’s the one where Julia Roberts portrays a real-life environmental activist trying to raise awareness about a toxic chemical found in water supplies to help the affected families and communities where the water is poisoning them. It has been 25 years since Brokovich’s work exposed the dangers and prevalence of chromium-6, but the urgency of the message is still apparently not coming through… or at least it’s not being properly addressed. The Environmental Working Group’s analysis of chromium-6 in water systems throughout the United States found that the tap water of more than two-thirds of Americans contains chromium-6 at levels deemed unsafe. More than 200 million Americans in all fifty states have chromium-6 contaminated tap water despite the fact that it has been five years since the EPA determined chromium-6 is “likely to be carcinogenic in humans.” Although the health goal for chromium-6 was set at .02 parts per billion, the much more relaxed legal limit is set at 10 parts per billion. Chromium exposure is linked to lung cancer, liver damage, reproductive harm, and developmental issues. High levels of contamination have been found throughout the country, including Norman, Oklahoma, Honolulu, Hawaii, Madison, Wisconsin and Tallahassee, Florida. One major obstacle in implementing regulation for this chemical comes from a not-so-shocking source: The American Chemistry Council (aka the chemical industry lobby). The American Chemistry Council is apparently conducting its own studies, and has urged the EPA not to decide on regulation until those reports have been finished and published. But don’t mind us until that happens. We’ll just be over here drinking carcinogenic contaminated water (as well as water with dangerous lead levels) and checking to see just how bad the situation is in our local water system via the EWG’s interactive map.

via Environmental Working Group

Lead image via Wikimedia Commons