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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Study finds probable carcinogen in tap water of 31 U.S. cities

A new analysis showing the presence of a probable carcinogen in the tap water of 31 cities across the country has raised questions about possible risks posed to consumers in those communities and how they can reduce their exposure. The chemical, hexavalent chromium, got public attention in the 2000 film "Erin Brockovich" and has been found to cause cancer in laboratory animals by the National Toxicology Program, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Although basic water filters such as those made by Brita and PUR do not remove hexavalent chromium, several reverse-osmosis systems designed for home use can take the chemical out of water. Such systems are available for purchase online and at hardware stores.

Bottled water is not necessarily an alternative because it is often drawn from municipal water systems and can still contain hexavalent chromium or other contaminants.

The analysis, released Monday by the Environmental Working Group, is the first nationwide look at hexavalent chromium in drinking water to be made public. The advocacy group sampled tap water from 35 cities and detected hexavalent chromium in 31 of those communities. Of those, 25 had levels that were higher than a health goal proposed last year by the state of California.

Locally, Bethesda and Washington had levels of .19 parts per billion, more than three times the California goal.

The federal government has not set a limit for hexavalent chromium in drinking water but is reexamining the chemical to decide whether it should impose such restrictions. To Read Full Study


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