If you live in the United States, you can be almost certain that you ingest copious amounts of a particularly nasty carcinogen daily. The source? Water.
According to a review from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), 75% of America’s drinking water contains the compound hexavalent chromium. 200 million Americans – that’s 62% of the total population – drink from this ‘pool’ of contaminated water daily.
What Is Hexavalent Chromium & Where Does It Come From?
Hexavalent chromium sounds like a heavy metal band but it’s really just a heavy metal. The World Health Organization ranks it as a Group 1 carcinogen. This means it unarguably causes cancer in humans.
For more than 20 years, we’ve known about the dangers associated with hexavalent chromium. Even in minute concentrations, the compound poses significant risk. I mean minute; Californian scientists labeled it as carcinogenic in concentrations as low as 0.02 parts per billion.
That said, you can still find it in paints, primers, chrome plating and a number of other industrial products.
Hexavalent chromium gets into water via pollution and discharge from the products mentioned above.
Is This A Big Deal?
‘Oh, it’s probably not that big of a deal,’ you might be thinking. ‘I mean, everything causes cancer.’ Yeah, no, believe me – hexavalent chromium is a big deal.
In 1996, Pacific Gas and Electricity had to pay a $333 million settlement to 600 residents of Hinkley, a small town in the Mojave Desert. The company had been using hexavalent chromium as a rust-proofing material, which leaked into nearby water sources.
Erin Brockovich, a lawyer, investigated the contamination and discovered that it was to blame for the town’s high rate of cancer and other diseases.
The scary part? The majority of public water suppliers out there don’t actually have to remove hexavalent chromium. You see, the acceptable limit is ridiculously high. In California, for example, it’s 500 times higher than the level researchers say is dangerous.
That means a whole lot of people are drinking water contaminated with hexavalent chromium.
Keeping that EWG study in mind, let’s not forget that this is a nation-wide problem.
But Wait, There’s More!
Hexavalent chromium is just one of the many issues public water poses. You’d be surprised at how many icky things actually live in what should be a super-healthy beverage.
Those icky things include other heavy metals, pesticides, pharmaceuticals and even – gulp – toilet paper.
How To Protect Yourself
A water filter is a great place to start. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to look out for natural spring water. Remember, the issue with hexavalent chromium is the water source. Bypass public water and you increase your odds of avoiding the 75% of water that contains hexavalent chromium.