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Tap Water in 31 U.S. Cities Contains Carcinogen Hexavalent Chromium

A probable carcinogen Hexavalent Chromium, a probable carcinogen, has been detected in the drinking water of 31 cities within the United States. The Environmental Working Group sampled and analyzed drinking water across the nation. The group determined the same substance made famous by the film "Erin Brockovich" has infiltrated a huge number of homes.

Hexavalent chromium is a group of chemical compounds that contain the element chromium in the +6 state. Hexavalent chromium is used for producing stainless steel, textile dyes, to preserve wood, to tan leather, and as an anti-corrosion/conversion coating. Hexavalent chromium compounds are genotoxic carcinogens known to increase the risks of lung cancer, leukemia, stomach cancer, and adversely affects the fine capillaries in the kidneys and intestine. The National Toxicology Program declared hexavalent chromium a "probable carcinogen" in 2008.

The Enviromental Protection Agency is reviewing measures to limit acceptable amounts of the compound in tap water within the U.S. In 2009, the state of California set a "public health goal" identifying safe levels of hexavalent chromium in drinking water to .06 parts per billion though no official legislation has been enacted. The study found that out of 35 cities across the U.S., 31 had hexavalent chromium in tap water and 25 had levels exceeding California's "safe level." In Norman, Oklahoma, tap water contained more than 200 times California's designated "safe level." Water tested from Washington, D.C. contained .19 parts per billion.

Max Costa, Chairman of the Department of Environmental Medicine at New York University, rendered the results of the study "disturbing" in an email to The Washington Post.

The findings of the Environmental Working Group tap water analysis will officially be released Monday.

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