A non-profit group tested water supplies all over the United States, and says that two-thirds of Americans have an unsafe level of carcinogen in their water supply, a number that includes Chattooga County.

The Environmental Working Group reports that the chemical known as “chromium-6,” made famous in the 2000 film “Erin Brockovich,” is dangerous, and took more than 60,000 samples across the U.S.  The testing found that 218 million Americans were being exposed to chromium-6 through their tap water.

The sole water system in Chattooga County detected chromium-6, at the Summerville water facility, according to the report. All 14 samples taken tested positive for chromium-6.

Chromium is an odorless and tasteless metallic element. Chromium is found naturally in rocks, plants, soil and volcanic dust, and animals, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Here’s what the EPA has to say about levels of chromium in drinking water:

“The current federal drinking water standard for total chromium is 0.1 mg/lHelpmg/lMilligrams per liter or 100 ppb. Chromium-6 and chromium-3 are covered under the total chromium drinking water standard because these forms of chromium can convert back and forth in water and in the human body, depending on environmental conditions. Measuring just one form may not capture all of the chromium that is present. In order to ensure that the greatest potential risk is addressed, EPA’s regulation assumes that a measurement of total chromium is 100 percent chromium-6, the more toxic form. If tap water from a public water system exceeds this federal standard, consumers will be notified.

The MCL for total chromium was established in 1991 and is based on the best available science at the time which indicated that continued exposure to chromium-6 could result in allergic dermatitis (skin reactions). EPA is now reviewing data from a 2008 long-term animal study by the Department of Health and Human Service’s National Toxicology Program, which suggested that chromium-6 may be a human carcinogen if ingested. When the review is completed, EPA will consider this and other information to determine whether the drinking water standard for total chromium needs to be revised.”

Read the full EPA position on chromium HERE.

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