Alert: Chromium 6 found in the tap water serving more than 200 million Americans. Your tap water is more likely than not to be affected. What you need to know.
What is Chromium 6 and how bad is it?
Chromium 6 is a heavy metal that is categorized as a Group 1 carcinogen according to the World Health Organization or WHO. It is a by-product of industrial manufacturing and is known to cause cancer in what is considered extremely small concentrations. More on this later.
This is the same heavy metal that Erin Brockovich brought attention to with her 2000 movie starring Julia Roberts that documented the poisoning of Hinkley, CA with Chromium 6.
The alarming study released Tuesday by the Environmental Working Group or “EWG” took samples from 60,000 sources nationwide and found that 75% of them contained a measurable amount of Hexavalent Chromium, commonly referred to as Chromium 6 (or Chromium VI). This means that 218 million Americans are affected by this issue. While the mere presence of the Chromium 6 is problematic and alarming, it’s really the concentrations at which it is toxic which pose the greatest challenge to consumers health.
The substance is extremely toxic at very, very low levels. So low that California scientists have labeled Chromium 6 dangerous when it exceeds just 0.02 parts per billion. Yes, that is parts per Billion not Million. One part per billion (ppb) equates to 1 part per every 1,000,000,000 parts. For a frame of reference, one part per billion is roughly equal to about one drop of water in an Olympic sized swimming pool. It’s practically nothing, but the research shows that there really isn’t a safe amount of Chromium VI in your water.
Scientific research from a two-year study done by the National Toxicology Program (2008) found that drinking water with Chromium VI caused cancer in the test subjects. So far, California is the only state to have a public health goal and an enforceable legal limit on this highly toxic, cancer-causing compound. However, the limit is set at 500 times what the researchers have declared as the health goal. That means there could be many times what is considered “safe” before they ever get close to the limit of what is acceptable for you to drink according to tap water regulations.
It should be noted that while Chromium 6 is something so potent and dangerous to your health it has no perceptible smell or odor, no taste and no visible signs of its presence. You can only tell if your water is affected by sophisticated laboratory testing procedures at a certified water quality lab. This contributes to part of the problem as most all of the consumers drinking the tap water have no practical way of measuring Chromium concentrations. The truth is you could be drinking it right now and have absolutely no idea.
Here is the map published by the EWG which shows the counties affected by Chromium in their tap water from the samples they obtained. Click here or click the map below to search to see if your area is affected (please not that this doesnt mean it will not be affected in the future!)
This leads many Americans to ask the question: Why aren’t we doing more as a country to deliver our drinking water? That’s a good question. The answer has to do with the cost and technical feasibility of performing the proper filtration to remove the contaminants. That is to say, it’s far too many gallons and costs too much to remove it on a nation-wide level. So the result is they don’t do anything about it and it continues to flow from the polluted water source into your pipes in your home or apartment and it becomes the water you drink. That is, unless you do something about it!
The good news here is our Clearly Filtered Water Pitcher is tested to remove Chromium 6 by up to 96%. So you can protect you and your family from this mostly-unregulated contaminant that is known to be harmful to your health.
Don’t wait, take action, filter your water with a product that has been specifically tested to remove Chromium 6. Most all of the products you find at the store will not remove it. Popular brands like Brita DO NOT protect you against this type of contamination. You need a more robust filter to get these heavy metals out.
That’s where the Clearly Filtered pitcher thrives. On those tricky to remove contaminants like Chromium 6 that the other filters on the market simply leave behind.
Does my water have Chromium 6?
From the EWG study just published it appears that more than 2/3rds of all Americans (218 million people) are at serious risk of encountering Chromium 6 in their drinking water.
What kind of filter removes Chromium 6?
Only higher-end filters like ClearlyFiltered’s Water Pitcher have the capability to remove contaminants like Chromium 6. Most pitchers do not make this claim.
Does Brita filter out Chromium 6?
No, Brita is not designed to remove Chromium 6.
Is any amount of Chromium 6 okay?
Scientists are still testing but concentrations as low as 0.02ppb are where current health goals are set in California.
What is the limit for Chromium 6 in the tap water?
Currently only California has a limit of 10ppb for their water. There is no national standard or limit set by the EPA at this time.
How do I know if I have Chromium 6 in my water?
Use the EWG website as a reference, it contains helpful information that may be applicable to your community water source.
How do I get a Chromium 6 water filter?
Your best bet is to order one online and have it shipped to you. You can do so right here on our website by clicking here.
On Monday May 2, 2016, New Jersey State Governor Chris Christie held a press conference at which he announced the state will test all of its schools water outlets for lead. The announcement was in response to eye-opening joint press release by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Newark Public Schools, Wednesday March 9, 2016. The press release contained test results showing that 30 school buildings in Newark had lead levels well above the federal action limit of 15 parts per billion (ppb), the highest test level coming in at over 500 ppb. The startling results prompted further testing of the municipal water supplies showed no elevated lead levels; suggesting the school district’s aging infrastructure is to blame. Christie added that the State will adopt more rigorous lead monitoring standards consistent with the most recent recommendation of the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Currently, New Jersey relies on the previous recommendation made by the CDC. Under the old recommendation an official investigation is initiated if a child’s blood is found to have a concentration of lead that is 10 micrograms (ug) per deciliter (dL) of blood; the new recommendation initiates an investigation at just 5 micrograms. This makes New Jersey the 29th state to adopt the CDC’s tougher recommendation. Finally, the governor announced that he had found ten million dollars in the State’s budget to cover the cost of the testing and urged the State’s Legislature to approve an additional ten million to cover more immediate infrastructure upgrades.
The issue of Lead in America is a complicated one, and Newark is not the only municipality with troubles. According to a USA Today network report excessive levels of lead can be found in nearly 2000 water spanning all 50 states. Furthermore, there is an estimated 7.3 million lead service lines currently in use throughout the country. However, even though there is a lot to be concerning news regarding lead, the United States has made significant progress in decreasing the the country’s environmental exposure. The two most important reforms to date are: the ban of lead paint for residential use in 1978 and the phasing out of leaded gasoline throughout the 1980’s. In fact, these measures were so effective that the average amount of lead found in a children’s blood fell from 15 ug/dL to 2.7ug/dL between 1978 and 1994(an 80% improvement over 16 years). While these results are very encouraging even the CDC states there is still a lot of work to be done. Lead is known to cause irreversible damage to: the kidneys, the nervous system, the reproductive system, the cardiovascular system, and the brains of fetuses and young children. There is no known lower threshold at which lead will affect a child, so it is critical that exposure be kept as low as possible.
The issue of lead in schools is an extremely serious one, and we at Clearly Filtered offer our prayers and support to all those affected by this developing situation. We also would like to applaud the state officials of New Jersey for their action on the issue. While there has been a lot of progress on this issue even the CDC admits that there is still along way to go. For example amounts of lead exposure below the federal action limit are still known to be dangerous, but no one is obligated to address presence of lead below that limit. So how can the public protect itself from this obvious gap in coverage? First, educate yourself about your water supply. (Does your water contain Lead or are you traveling to an area where Lead contamination is prevalent i.e. a foreign country) Next, evaluate your filtration needs. While the EPA and CDC do not test filter for their effectiveness against lead, according to Cornell University activated carbon is the easiest means of reducing and eliminating lead from drinking water (Read Cornell’s Activated Carbon Fact Sheet here). If you are worried that you or someone you know is drinking water contaminated with lead please feel free to browse our selection of tested premium activated carbon filters.
- Center for Disease Control
- Environmental Protection Agency
Beyond Flint: Excessive lead levels found in almost 2,000 water systems across all 50 states. (2016). Retrieved June 09, 2016, from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/03/11/nearly-2000-water-systems-fail-lead-tests/81220466/
Susan K. Livio and Claude Brodesser-Akner | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com. (2016). Christie: All N.J. school water fountains to be tested for lead. Retrieved June 09, 2016, from http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2016/05/christie_all_school_water_fountains_to_be_tested.html
- CDC Fact Sheet for the Reduction of Blood Lead Levels in Children
- EPA & HUD Fact Sheet on Lead in Homes
- Cornell University Fact Sheet Activated on Activated Carbon
Image: Firefighters Using PFC fire retardant foam.
On Thursday, June 2, 2016 the West Morgan-East Lawrence Water and Sewer Authority (WMEL) shocked residents when they recommended that over 100,000 residents not drink their tap water. In addition to 10,000 direct customers the water authority serves West Morgan County and East Lawrence County of Northern Alabama. The recommendation was made in response to a health advisory published by the (EPA) May 19, 2016. The new health advisory claims chemicals contaminating the water supply in Northern Alabama pose a significant human health risk at much lower levels than previously thought. The contaminants of concern belong to a class of chemicals called perflourinated compounds (PFC’s), specifically: perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). The recommendation is expected to remain in effect until the water authority can implement a short-term solution in late September. In the interim, residents are figuratively left dry for the next 4 months. To make things worse the water authority also stated that it does not have the funds to provide bottled water while the solution is underway. According to the health advisory the water only poses a threat if it is consumed; water usage for showering and laundry are still deemed safe.
So what are PFC’s and why are they so dangerous? PFC’s synthetic class of chemicals made popular by the manufacturing company 3M. PFC’s were heavily relied upon their water repellant (Scotchguard) and fire retardant properties (Fire Fighting Foam). However, 3M and the industry discontinued their manufacturing and use of the chemicals in 2002 due to political pressure and eventual regulation. While there is currently no reported danger from casual contact with PFC’s, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) ingestion certain PFC’s have been shown to cause: developmental delays in the fetus and child, decreased fertility, increased cholesterol, changes in liver function, changes to the immune system, increased uric acid, prostate cancer, kidney cancer, and testicular cancer. While some may question the strength of this evidence; it was strong enough for the WMEL to issue its recommendation.
So what can be done about PFC’s? The first thing anyone should do is get their water tested on a regular basis for the presence of contaminants. Once the water is test and the presence of contaminants are confirmed it is time to choose the most appropriate water treatment for the contaminants in your water. According to the EPA, CDC, ASTDR, WMEL, and others the use of an activated carbon filter is recommended for reduction and removal of PFC’s. In fact, the short term solution the WMEL is hoping to implement will be a series of six railcar sized activated carbon filters. The Filters are expected to last until 2019 when they will need to be replaced. It is also possible to filter PFC’s from water using reverse osmosis, however, the cost along with the work that goes into maintaining the various membranes can often be a barrier to proper use of these systems.
We at Clearly Filtered would like to offer our prayers to all those affected by this horrible situation. Unfortunately, PFC contamination seems to be a widespread and the scariest part is that until May 19th the water in Alabama (and many other municipalities) was “safe” to drink. However, unlike in Flint, Michigan public official have been very proactive in trying to remove PFC’s from their water; the WMEL even filed a lawsuit against 3M for the cost of the contamination over a year before the EPA’s announcement. Even with the all these great plans in place, the residents of Northern Alabama still have to procure their own safe drinking water or keep drinking their contaminated water.
If you are concerned that you or someone you know may be drinking water containing PFC’s please browse our selection of premium activated carbon filters.
- Environmental Protection Agency
- Dennis Pillion (2016). North Alabama drinking water contamination: What you need to know. Retrieved June 06, 2016
- Dennis Pillion (2016). 100,000 north Alabama customers advised not to drink water due to chemical contamination. Retrieved June 06, 2016
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
- Health Effects of PFAS. (n.d.). Retrieved June 06, 2016
Since the major news coverage of the Flint, Michigan tap water crisis, many other cities have been coming up in the news questioning their own municipal water supply. With many of the US municipal water systems "coming of age" we will likely be hearing much more news about issues about the health of our drinking water. Because of the outpour of frustration behind Flint many other cities are trying their best to not seek the same fate in the publics eyes. Their solution . . . underreport and systematically downplay the levels of contaminants such as lead and copper in the water.
Scientists have come forward stating that they are seeing blatant "distortion of test data" to make the water in their cities perceive to be healthier than it really is.
The controversial approach to water testing is so widespread that it occurs in “every major US city east of the Mississippi” according to an anonymous source with extensive knowledge of the lead and copper regulations. “By word of mouth, this has become the thing to do in the water industry. The logical conclusion is that millions of people’s drinking water is potentially unsafe.”
It is hard to believe that Flint, Michigan is a one-off case. With many of the major cities east of the Mississippi all under-reporting their levels of dangerous contaminants in the water, its only a matter of time before these reports hit the news stands. There comes a time in the very near future that our cities municipal water systems have run their course and will need to be updated. Original lead piping systems are planned to last between 60-95 years and many of those systems are overdue for an upgrade. We still have many questions to be answered, but its looking as if we will be hearing many more accounts of issues with municipal tap water systems.
In Sebring, Ohio in August of 2015 showed extreme levels of lead in their water because workers stopped adding chemicals that were leading to the pipes corroding faster. It took the city 5 months to recognize the problem and inform the local pregnant women and children to stop drinking the water and turn off public consumption of the water at local schools.
Just last week the city of Los Angeles had to provide bottled water to 5 schools which "mysteriously" were found to have murky water likely linked to the lead piping system.
We posted a blog post last week highlighting the State of Emergency declared in Newburgh, New York because high levels of PFOS in their water supply. http://www.clearlyfiltered.com/blogs/blog/116666884-water-contamination-in-new-york-water-supply
Rules and science are outdated. The E.P.A.’s trigger level for addressing lead in drinking water — 15 parts per billion — is not based on any health threat; rather, it reflects a calculation that water in at least nine in 10 homes susceptible to lead contamination will fall below that standard.
Is it time to hold the EPA accountable for testing and limit standards across the country? Shouldn't these standards be tied to the best interest of the health of the people paying for and consuming the water?
Our pitcher is one of the few filtered water pitchers that truly removes many of the unhealthy contaminants that we are starting to see pop up in the news. Where Brita just masks the idea that its actually giving you healthier water by merely providing you with "better tasting" water, we remove up 99.99% of harmful contaminants including copper, lead, arsenic, PFOS, as well more than 70 others. Make sure you have the best pitcher on the market because there is a good chance you will be needing to use it before your city tells you to do so.
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