When the film Erin Brokovich staring Julia Roberts came out almost two decades ago, it exposed the true story of how Public Gas and Electric Company poisoned an entire California town’s drinking water.
The real-life Erin Brokovich has since been warning that many additional municipal drinking water supplies were likely also toxic, due to fracking, political posturing, greed, and other illegal, industrial practices.
A study conducted by the Environmental Working Group has just revealed that the very same chemical which Brokovich made famous in the movie — chromium-6, or hexavalent chromium — is in the tap water of more than 218 million Americans. The EWG used more than 60,000 tap water samples from across the nation to come to this determination.
As Brokovich recently explained to Bill Maher, over 70 percent of our municipal water is supplied from surface water. That means lakes, creeks, streams, reservoirs, and other small bodies of water. No two water bodies are the same. Brokovich argued,
“If you willy-nilly change the water system from one river to another, you can cause a chemical reaction.”
She further details how, instead of laying new pipe, as most cities are in need of, corrupt politicians instead take hand-outs to hide the deteriorating state of the nation’s water infrastructure. In place of better pipes and expensive filters, contracts are given to companies who just pour one toxic chemical in with another, creating a cancerous byproduct.
Hexavalent chromium is just one of them, and it is endemic now in municipal water supplies. In just 80 parts per billion in is known to increase miscarriage in pregnant women, and is listed as a known carcinogen by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Additionally, even the U.S. Department of Labor advices against chromium-6 exposure, and the CDC’s own toxicological report for chromium even exposes it as a serious health threat – this from an agency many don’t trust for egregious lies and cover-ups concerning public health.
Though chromium appears in nature, it is not supposed to be in the water supply as chromium-6, and certainly not as a byproduct of chlorine and other chemicals added to our water supposedly to keep it ‘clean.’
When the National Toxicology Program found that chromium-6 caused cancer in rats and mice in 2008, California proposed the establishment of a statewide legal limit of 0.06 parts per billion (ppb) of chromium-6 in drinking water. These levels and higher are being found in water supplies across the country.
Currently, no municipality is required to test for this chemical, nor are there any legal limits set. Instead, the US Environmental Protection Agency has set the federal standard for total chromium in drinking water at 100 parts per billion (ppb), but the EPA has never set a specific limit for chromium-6.
As Columbia University reports,
“The highest levels of chromium-6 were found in Norman, OK which measured 12.9 ppb; Honolulu, HA with 2.00 ppb; Riverside, CA at 1.69 ppb; Madison, WI at 1.58 ppb; and San Jose, CA which measured 1.34 ppb. The utilities that service the 31 cities whose tap water contained chromium-6 provide water to over 26 million people.”
The EWG believes the number of people who are drinking chromium-6 contaminated water are much higher than the 218 million Americans which were named in the study.
Hinkley, California won a $333 million lawsuit against Pacific Gas and Electric for polluting their drinking water with chromium-6. Who is going to pay for polluting the water of over 30 US cities?