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Hexavalent chromium, is it in your water?September 24th, 2016

Hexavalent chromium or often referred to as Chromium VI. These names may still not mean a lot to you. Quite a few of us remember the movie "Erin Brockovich" though. An American legal clerk and environmental activist against Pacific Gas and Electric Company of California in 1993. This is the same chemical that we are talking about here.

Hexavalent chromium compounds are genotoxic carcinogens. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer 1.4 million cases. Carcinogenic compounds including metals and organic solvents play a major role in the multi-step processes that lead to breast cancer. A combination of biological processes and physiochemical effects of each carcinogen in conjunction with other factors including genetics, age, and body size can contribute to development of the breast cancer.

Itís been known for about 20 years that people can contract lung cancer when inhaling hexavalent chromium. But until now, toxicologists have been uncertain whether it causes cancer when swallowed.

Other reports of some tests that have been done on Chromium VI is when it was placed in water that was tested on rats found that it did cause cancer. Applying the data to humans assumes that the rodentsí stomach eliminated the same fraction of chromium VI at high doses that the human stomach would at lower doses.

The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) found at
link : Hexavalent Chromium MSDS

Shows that it is harmful if swallowed. Very toxic by inhalation. Causes severe burns. May cause sensitization by inhalation and skin contact. May cause cancer. May cause heritable genetic damage. Explosive when mixed with combustible material. Toxic in contact with skin and if swallowed. Toxic : danger of serious damage to health by prolonged exposure through inhalation. Possible risk of impaired fertility. Very toxic to aquatic organisms, may cause long term adverse effects in the aquatic environment.

The interactive map located online at
link : Chromium VI interactive map

Clearly shows that areas of Columbiana, Jefferson, Stark Counties in Ohio and Beaver County, Pennsylvania plus Hancock County, West Virginia. Specifically in cities of Salem, East Liverpool, Steubenville and Chester or any areas under service by Buckeye Water District - Ohio River, Beaver Falls Municipal Authority, Center Township Water Authority, Ambridge Water Authority, Jefferson County Water & Sewer District. These are just in our local area. Columbiana County average is 0.263 ppb, Beaver County averages are 0.0899 ppb, Hancock County average: 0.0353 ppb, and Jefferson County at average is 0.0799 ppb.

Bottled water quality can vary. Bottled water in the United States is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is required to meet standards equal to the EPAís tap water standards. There are also individual state standards. However, in most cases, you must contact the bottled water manufacturer for information about chromium levels.

While these levels are all well below the EPA has a drinking water standard of 0.1 milligrams per liter (mg/l) or 100 parts per billion (ppb) for TOTAL chromium. Which includes all forms of Chromium. However the California Public Health Goal is 0.02 ppb for Chormium VI by itself.

In short, while this is all public information accessible online or by making phone calls and requesting the information. I donít feel that it is not made known well enough or tracked often enough and made public. Besides with so much variation of what levels should be and and tests in our area havenít been done since 2013. We should know more. While technologies are getting better and the rate of cancer deaths are on a decline, the number of cancer diagnosed are on the rise in the last couple decades.

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