News / USA

Carcinogen Found in US Tap Water

Carcinogen Found in US Tap Water
Carcinogen Found in US Tap Water

Multimedia

Zulima Palacio

In the movie Erin Brockovich, Julia Roberts played a California woman on a mission against a local company accused of leaking the metal chromium-6 into ground water, allegedly causing cancer in 600 people.  The movie was based on a real story. The more than $300 million settlement was one of the largest ever in the United States.

Fifteen years later, test results by an environmental group produced shocking results about tap water across the country.     

In the study by the Environmental Working Group, 31 out of 35 cities showed various levels of Chromium-6, considered a carcinogen, in drinking water.    

Olga Naidenko is the Senior Scientist at the Environmental Working Group

"Our study was a snapshot which demonstrated that Chromium pollution in drinking water is widespread across the US," said Olga Naidenko is the Senior Scientist at the Environmental Working Group.  "Washington was 9 times higher than what California state scientists think is safe."

The Washington Aqueduct, owned and operated by the US government, provides potable water for a million people in the Washington DC region. Thomas Jacobus is General Manager.  He says the Aqueduct did not test specifically for Chromium-6. But once the tests were done, he says, the levels were low.

"The cost to remove chromium, half of a part per billion, would be staggering and the question is, is that practical and is that necessary?" asked Jacobus.

The Aqueduct runs tests for bacteria and contaminants. It regularly checks for 22 metals, but not chromium.  Jacobus says he is confident the water is safe.  

Chromium-6 is a naturally occurring metal. Chromium pollution most commonly comes from mining and other industrial processes.    

"It has been released into water because industries didn't care," said Naidenko.  "They don't do it on purpose, but for example they store industrial waste water in unlined pools, basically just dump it outside, that is how it often ended up in water."

Naidenko says 15 years after the California case, the Environmental group found similar levels of chromium-6 in other parts of the country.

"The highest sample of our study was actually within the range that Ms. Brockovich detected in Hinkley, California in a highly polluted area," added Naidenko.

Washington Aqueduct says much can happen as water travels to the consumer.  Jacobus says old pipes and fixtures can leach metals.  He says water treatment facilities were never designed to remove chemicals that are now showing up.

"Right now, I think it means we need to keep looking and be aware that there may be some things that we don't know," added Jacobus.

Toxic chemicals are showing up in water around the world.  Naidenko says in China, Greece and Scotland people have suffered from stomach cancers she says are linked to polluted water.

"We are not aware of studies that systematically analyze chromium in other countries, but reports from individual countries indicating chromium pollution is fairly common," noted Naidenko.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has now ordered utilities around the US to test for chromium-6 twice a year. EPA has also begun a review of the impact of chromium-6 to determine safe levels in drinking water.

You May Like

Anti-Terror Drills Highlight China’s Push Into Central Asia

China, Russia, several central Asian countries wrap up massive anti terrorism military drills in Inner Mongolia More

Erdogan’s First Step: Secure More Power in New Role in Turkey

Erdogan was sworn in as Turkey's first popularly elected president on Thursday; he picked former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu as PM More

Pakistan Army Fails to Break Political Deadlock

PM Sharif claims he didn't ask army to defuse crisis; military rejects claim More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid