January 11, 2022 3 min read
In 2000, the biographical film Erin Brockovich won over the hearts of the American public, securing Julia Roberts an Academy Award for the category “Best Actress.” Based on a true story, the film follows one woman as she fights a corporate giant for polluting the groundwater of the town of Hinkley. Twenty-two years later, and the documentary still holds its relevance, as the pollutant made popular by the film continues infiltrating groundwater sources across the United States.
The pollutant is known as chromium 6, and it finds its home in water supplies that provide tap water to over two-thirds of Americans.
Chromium 6 is a chemical that occurs both in nature and through industrial pollution. Industrial processes, like waste leakage and poor waste disposal tactics, makes its presence wildly popular in groundwater supplies. The chemical is carcinogenic and known to cause cancer, and the Environmental Working Group predicts that untreated tap water will “cause more than 12,000 new cases of cancer” that otherwise could have been avoided. These predictions include both stomach and lung cancer, but chromium 6 is also thought to damage reproductive systems and the liver.
Despite the wide array of harmful effects, there is no national standard to enforce how much of the chemical is allowed in water sources. Industry pressure from large companies that send out the pollutants ensures that the limit stays unset, which means chromium 6 levels cannot be contained legally. Back in 2014, California became the first state to set a legal limit of chromium 6 in drinking water, but a lawsuit in 2017 forced the state to rescind their limit. Despite countless obstacles facing chromium 6 limits in drinking water, the Ninth Circuit in California continues to fight to set a standard of how much of the chemical is safe for people to drink. The fight continues unresolved, so for now the chemical still perpetuates tap water sources across the country.
While public authorities continue fighting over chromium 6 pollution, there is a way individuals can protect themselves from the chemical’s carcinogenic qualities. Purchasing a water filter, like those produced by Seychelle, allows for chromium 6 to be filtered out before consumed. Seychelle water filters are independently tested to remove over 95% of chromium remnants from tap water, removing the threat of cancer along with it.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is chromium 6?
Chromium 6 is a carcinogenic chemical that occurs naturally and in industry settings. Large industries release chromium 6 into the environment through improper disposal of the pollutant, and through runoff it enters water supplies that are then consumed by households.
Is chromium 6 harmful?
Yes. The chemical is known to cause various types of cancer, including stomach and lung cancer. Additionally, chromium 6 traces can lead to liver and reproductive dysfunctions.
How can I protect myself from consuming chromium 6?
Due to a holdup in court, public offices are currently unable to regulate chromium 6 levels in water. Therefore, it is up to the individual to protect themselves. Experts suggest filtering tap water through a system like Seychelle, which is third-party tested to remove the chemical from tap water.
Cahill, Nick. “Ninth Circuit refreshed fight over city’s chromium 6-tainted water.”Courthouse News Service,29 September 2021,https://www.courthousenews.com/ninth-circuit-refreshes-fight-over-citys-chromium-6-tainted-water/. Accessed 10 January 2022.
“Chromium-6.”EWG’s Tap Water Database, October 2019,https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/reviewed-chromium-6.php. Accessed 10 January 2022.Deamer, Kacey. “Chromium-6 in Tap Water: Why the ‘Erin Brockovich’ Chemical is Dangerous.”Live Science,22 September 2016,https://www.livescience.com/56210-what-is-chromium-6-in-tap-water.html. Accessed 10 January 2022.