A cancer-causing chemical called chromium 6 (hexavalent chromium) is at unsafe levels in Sacramento tap water and also has been found found in 89 percent of cities sampled by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). According to a new study released yesterday, December 21, 2010 from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), Sacramento contains an unsafe level of the carcinogenic chromium 6 (hexavalent chromium) measured at the unsafe level of 0.16 parts per billion of hexavalent chromium. California’s safe level, according to the state government, is supposed to be at less than 0.07 parts per billion of chromium 6.
In contrast, nearby Reno, NV, has no levels detected of hexavalent chromium. Who’s going to get the carcinogenic chromium 6 out of Sacramento water, and when? And why is there so much hexavalent chromium in Sacramento water, but no detectable levels in nearby Reno? Check out EWG’s table, a graphic listing numbers of various chromium-6 levels measured in 25 cities’ tap water that exceed the safe limit proposed by California officials.*
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) also has Sacramento offices located at 1107 9th Street, Suite 340, Sacramento, CA 95814. If you have a question, check out that website. At EWG, the organization’s team of scientists, engineers, policy experts, lawyers and computer programmers pore over government data, legal documents, scientific studies and other data. Here’s the website to contact the EWG’s Sacramento Office.
In a news release that went out December 21, 2010, the EWG measured concentrations of hexavalent chromium in four California cities–Sacramento, Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Jose. On the organization’s table of measurements, you can see the “red dots” on their table of measurements. The EWG recommends that the EPA should move expeditiously to establish a legal limit for the chemical in tap water and require water utilities to test for it.
The state of California must establish a strong standard for hexavalent chromium in tap water immediately. A truly health-protective hexavalent chromium regulation will reduce the cancer risk for Californians and serve as a model for the nation. With an enforceable standard already six years past the statutory deadline and the health of millions of Californians at stake, the state cannot move too quickly. On the organization’s table of measurements, the size of the red dots reflect the level found.
Colored areas on the table reflect population-adjusted average concentrations of hexavalent chromium by county, as calculated by county from EWG’s tap water database. See their website on Study Methodology. The state’s current testing protocols can’t detect chromium-6 in amounts lower than 1 part per billion (ppb), more than 16 times higher than the proposed safe level. Sources refer to the EWG-commissioned testing for hexavalent chromium in tap water from four California cities. EWG analysis of water utility testing data was obtained from state water agencies (EWG 2009).
If you remember the “Erin Brockovich” movie, this is the same chemical that’s in tap water in 31 American cities tested so far. Sacramento has a medium level, but the highest levels were in Riverside, CA, Honolulu, Hawaii, and Norman, OK. Water samples from 25 cities contained the toxic metal at concentrations above the safe maximum proposed by California regulators. For further information, check out the websites of the National Toxicology Program and the US Environmental Protection Agency, both of which also found that hexavalent chromium in tap water is “likely to be carcinogenic (cancer-causing) to humans.”
What: Facts about the Environmental Working Group
EWG wants to protect the most vulnerable segments of the human population-children, babies, and infants in the womb- from health problems attributed to a wide array of toxic contaminants. Also EWG wants to replace federal policies, including government subsidies that damage the environment and natural resources, with policies that invest in conservation and sustainable development.
Why: EWG is well-respected in many fields
“An environmental group with clout.” – USA Today
“A green dream team of computer programmers, policy experts and engineers.” – Associated Press
“An environmental advocacy organization that has a knack for shaping government data into punchy calculations.” – Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“The Environmental Working Group has become a respected watchdog of environmental and land-use policies since its founding in 1993.” – The Hill