Cancer-causing chemical found in SWFL tap water

Test samples taken from 2013-2015
Posted at 11:10 PM, Sep 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-23 07:31:31-04

You may be consuming a cancer-causing chemical in your tap water, according to a new study.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released the study which analyzed over 60,000 samples of tap water from around the nation taken between 2013-2015 and found the chemical chromium-6 in two-thirds of them.

EWG estimates over 200 million Americans are consuming Chromium-6; a chemical by-product of the industrial industry.

Chromium-6, or Hexavalent Chromium, was made famous by the film Erin Brokovich. It tells the real-life story of a single mother who exposed a California Utility Company that contaminated the city of Hinkley's water supply with the chemical.

EWG's study is revealing the chemical is a widespread problem, and it's also in Southwest Florida.

Water samples taken in Lee, Charlotte and Collier county's tested positive for the carcinogenic chemical.

Collier County shows the highest levels in the area, with an average of .19 ppb. The highest concentration was found in Naples' tap water, at .29 ppb.

Several Lee County water supplies also tested positive for Chromium-6.  Cape Coral registered an average of .08 ppb, the highest in the county.

Charlotte County which had the lowest numbers in the region, had an average of .0264.

INTERACTIVE MAP: Chromim-6 Test Results

The average of the samples in each county were over the .02 ppb recommended by the California office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA).

"It's an on-going issue and I think that the group that put out this report wanted to call attention to the fact that there are levels of chromium-6 in the drinking water of much of the country," said Sam Delson, Deputy Director for External and Legislative Affairs, California OEHHA.

Chromium-6 is linked to lung cancer, and reproductive problems. California has a 10 ppb mandate for Chromium-6, which is about 500x higher than the recommended goal of .02 ppb.

"Chromium 6 does cause cancer.  Our public health goal was based on a study that found rats and mouse who drank water with chromium-6 developed gastrointestinal tumors."

Drinking bottled water is not an effective way to avoid consuming Chromium-6, according to Delson because bottled water is not required to go through the same rigorous testing as tap supplies.