Hexavalent Chromium Found in Tap Water: Is Your City on This List?

Jeanne Sager

drinking waterWhat do Americans in 31 of the country's cities now having in common with Julia Roberts? They've both got a connection to hexavalent chromium, a chemical the Environmental Working Group (EWG) says has shown up in the drinking water of 31 of 35 American cities. It's the chemical made famous by the movie Erin Brockovich, which won Roberts an Academy Award for her portrayal of the real-life legal assistant who gave the film its name.

The real Brockovich took down Pacific Gas & Electric, the company responsible for polluting a town's water supply with none other than hexavalent chromium. And now the EWG says the chemical is floating around in the water in places from Norman, Oklahoma to Bethesda, Maryland.

If you saw the film, you may remember the chemical poisoned people in the town, and it's classified as a "human carcinogen" by the Environmental Protection Agency. So should we be worried?

According to scientists, yes. Previously thought of as a risk if you're inhaling it, scientists have recently discovered tumors in animals who have ingested the chemical, leading to liver and kidney damage, leukemia, and stomach cancer. The following cities made the EWG list (in descending order of amount of hexavalent chromium found):

1. Norman, Oklahoma

2. Honolulu, Hawaii

3. Riverside, California

4. Madison, Wisconsin

5. San Jose, California

6. Tallahassee, Florida

7. Omaha, Nebraska

8. Albuquerque, New Mexico

9. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

10. Bend, Oregon

11. Salt Lake City, Utah

12. Ann Arbor, Michigan

13. Atlanta, Georgia

14. Los Angeles, California

15. Bethesda, Maryland

16. Phoenix, Arizona

17. Washington, D.C.

18. Chicago, Illinois

19. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

20. Villanova, Pennsylvania

21. Sacramento,  California

22. Louisville, Kentucky

23. Syracuse, New York

24. New Haven, Connecticut

25. Buffalo, New York

26. Las Vegas, Nevada

27. New York, New York

28. Scottsdale, Arizona

29. Miami, Florida

30. Boston, Massachusetts

31. Cincinnati, Ohio

Is your city on the list? Check out the rest of the cities the EWG tested. If you're still worried, you can have private testing done to determine if the chemical shows up in your tap water.


Image via Joe Shlabotnik/Flickr

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