Scientists label report on ”Erin Brockovich” chemical ‘alarmist’Published On: Thu, Dec 23rd, 2010 | Pollution | By BioNews
If you have seen the movie ‘Erin Brockovich’ you may remember hexavalent chromium too – the chemical chromium-6 that is considered as a dangerous water pollutant.
A new report by the Environmental Working Group has indicated that it has contaminated drinking water in more than 30 cities nationwide, but experts have said there’s no need to raise an alarm.
“The National Toxicology Program has found that hexavalent chromium in drinking water shows clear evidence of carcinogenic activity in laboratory animals, increasing the risk of otherwise rare gastrointestinal tumors,” as per the report.
“There have also been some other health effects seen in animal studies, such as anaemia and damage to the lymph nodes, liver and gastrointestinal tract,” said Rebecca Sutton, the report’s lead researcher.
Regulations set by the Environmental Protection Agency set a total chromium limit of 100 ppb, or parts per billion, for drinking water. However, there is no set limit for chromium-6, and water utility companies are not required to test for it.
But toxicology experts say inhaling chromium-6 can cause cancer, but there isn”t much data on the dangers of drinking it.
“The evidence is fairly good that it’s carcinogenic in people in occupational settings who inhale it and get a good dose,” said Dr. Shan Yin, assistant medical director of the Cincinnati Drug and Poison Information Center.
“No one has really established what is a carcinogenic level for drinking water. We need to establish what is a limit we have to be concerned about,” said Alfred Aleguas, managing director at the Northern Ohio Poison Control Center in Cleveland.
Nevertheless, the EPA said in a statement that it’s currently assessing the impact of chromium-6 on public health and will determine if a new level needs to be set.
Statement from US Environmental Protection Agency-
“EPA absolutely has a drinking water standard for total chromium, which includes chromium-6 (also known as Hexavalent Chromium), and we require water systems to test for it. This standard is based on the best available science and is enforceable by law. Ensuring safe drinking water for all Americans is a top priority for EPA. The agency regularly re-evaluates drinking water standards and, based on new science on chromium-6, had already begun a rigorous and comprehensive review of its health effects. In September, we released a draft of that scientific review for public comment. When this human health assessment is finalized in 2011, EPA will carefully review the conclusions and consider all relevant information, including the Environmental Working Group’s study, to determine if a new standard needs to be set.”
Currently, the total chromium standard is 0.1 mg/L (100 parts per billion).
Our latest data shows no U.S. utilities are in violation of the standar