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

    Russia's Expat Community Shrinking

    Russia's troubled economy, tensions with West have led hundreds of thousands of foreigners to leave for better opportunities

    Accelerating the Push Against Islamic State: What Will Work?

    Experts stress need to step up military action, address root causes of Muslims' disaffection, counter IS social media messages in a massive way

    Experts: N. Korean Abductions Sought to Halt Brain Drain

    Pyongyang abducted about 3,800 South Koreans and more than a dozen Japanese nationals in late 1970s

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees with Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees with Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.