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Study Finds Carcinogen Hexavalent Chromium in Tap Water

hexavalent chromium, julia roberts

Hollywood happy ending? Not really. Chromium-6 found all over the country.

An analysis of the water in 35 cities around the U.S. found that 31 of them showed the presence of hexavalent chromium, a suspected carcinogen. The majority of those cities also had higher than acceptable levels as set by the state of California. There are currently no federal limits on hexavalent chromium in tab water, though the Environmental Protection Agency is considering them.

If this sounds kind of familiar, it’s because that’s what the whole Erin Brockovich legal battle (and movie starring Julia Roberts) was about hexavalent chromium, or chromium-6.

This is the first nationwide analysis of hexavalent chromium and will be released Monday.

The highest levels were found in the drinking water of Norman, Okla. There, the water contained more than 200 times the California limit.

Next up is Honolulu, Hawaii. Then Riverside, Calif., Madison Wisconsin, and San Jose, Calif.

Hexavalent chromium, according to the Washington Post, is blamed for any number of cancers. From the Post:

Hexavalent chromium has long been known to cause lung cancer when inhaled, but scientists only recently found evidence that it causes cancer in laboratory animals when ingested. It has been linked in animals to liver and kidney damage as well as leukemia, stomach cancer and other cancers.

Here are the remaining 30 cities in the study and how they rank. For a read on the levels, which don’t fall under the California limit until way down at No. 26, Las Vegas, here’s a handy graph.

6. Tallahassee, Florida
7. Omaha, Nebraska
8. Albuquerque, New Mexico
9. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
10. Bend, Oregon
11. Salt Lake City, Utah
12. Ann Arbor, Michigan
13. Atlanta, Georgia
14. Los Angeles, California
15. Bethesda, Maryland
16. Phoenix, Arizona
17. Washington, D.C.
18. Chicago, Illinois
19. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
20. Villanova, Pennsylvania
21. Sacramento, California
22. Louisville, Kentucky
23. Syracuse, New York
24. New Haven, Connecticut
25. Buffalo, New York
26. Las Vegas, Nevada
27. New York, New York
28. Scottsdale, Arizona
29. Miami, Florida
30. Boston, Massachusetts
31. Cincinnati, Ohio

The study detected no hexavalent chromium in the drinking water in Indianapolis; Plano, Texas; Reno, Nevada; San Antonio, Texas.

How does your city fare? Does this make you worried about your children? We drink mostly tap water in my home and while my city’s water department isn’t on the list, the biggest on in my county (Los Angeles is … at No. 14). That’s no good.

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