Millions of U.S. residents are drinking well water – from both municipal and private sources – that contains dangerous levels of chromium-6, according to a recent well water study from the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
Chromium-6 is a known carcinogen. Exposure to this chemical compound can also cause other adverse health effects, including dizziness, abdominal pain, vomiting, convulsions, ulcers, reproductive issues and kidney and liver damage.
The Most Common Sources of Chromium-6 in Well Water
Chromium is an element found naturally in the environment, in rocks, soil and plant material. When these natural deposits erode, the byproduct of chromium-6 is produced.
High levels of chromium-6 in groundwater may also be the result of industrial processes. This chemical compound is manufactured for use in several industries, including steel-making, dye and pigment production, chrome plating and wood and leather preservation.
Power plants are another possible source of chromium-6 contamination in the groundwater. Electrical plants use this compound to lower water temperatures in cooling towers. It’s also found in the ash by-product of coal-burning power plants.
How Much Chromium-6 is Too Much in Your Well Water?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) doesn’t have a specific limit for the chromium-6 compound. Instead, the federal standard of 100 parts per billion (ppb) applies to all types of chromium.
In 2014, California became the first and only state to set a safe drinking water standard for the chromium-6 compound, capping the amount at 10 parts per billion. The California standard is obviously stricter than that of the EPA, but it may not go far enough. Public health researchers in California had recommended a rate of just 0.02 parts per billion.
The EWG used both of these standards for their study. By the more lenient EPA rate, the researchers found that the water supplies for 7 million U.S. residents contained dangerous levels of chromium-6. If you consider the stricter standards recommended in California, the EWG determined that a whopping 218 million people in the U.S. regularly drink water contaminated with this chemical compound.
What’s even scarier, however, is that the EWG study covered only a fraction of the private well water systems across the country. Consequently, it’s highly likely that the number of Americans affected by drinking water contamination is much larger.
How Can You Test Your Well Water for Chromium-6?
Most do-it-yourself water testing kits don’t test for chromium-6 levels. The most reliable option for determining if your well is contaminated is to have a water well contractor conduct more thorough testing
The good news is that chromium-6 can easily and safely be removed from well water. A reverse osmosis filter is the preferred method, as it is highly effective. Reverse osmosis filters are also affordable and easy to maintain, for homeowners with private wells.
Have you had your private well tested for chromium-6 contamination recently? Contact the professional team at Mike Zimmerman Well Service LLC to learn more. Serving homeowners throughout Utah and Wyoming, we look forward to assisting you with your well water quality testing.