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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs