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Water Quality Reports — hexavalent chromium

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5 Things Houston Residents Need To Know About Chromium 6 In Drinking Water



Eric Roy, Ph.D.  |  Scientific Founder    

Since a local news story broke about high levels of chromium 6 (also known as hexavalent chromium) in Houston's tap water (which serves about 2.2 million people), we've been getting a lot of questions about chromium 6.  The goal of this Houston water contamination article is to speak to the science, comment on the current federal regulations, and to give Houston residents practical advice on how to reduce their exposure to Chromium 6.

Why Should I Care About Chromium 6 In Drinking Water?

Chromium 6 is a highly toxic form of chromium that is known to cause cancer in humans.  It contaminates drinking water supplies through wastewater discharge from industries including:  steel production, leather tanning, textile manufacturing, wood preservation, and electroplating.  In more popular culture, it was the chemical made famous by Erin Brockovich, whose story was made into a movie starring Julia Roberts.  To be clear, chromium 6 is NOT the same thing as chromium 3 (also known as trivalent chromium)

How High Are Chromium 6 Levels In Houston's Tap Water?

Houston's tap water chromium 6 levels are very high, 3rd highest of major US cities, behind only Phoenix and St. Louis.  The 3 year average for Houston's drinking water supply is just under 750 parts per trillion, peaking at 6500 parts per trillion.  To put it in perspective, these levels are roughly 35-300 times higher than the 20 part per trillion concentration established using criteria widely cited by scientists and doctors for negligible risk.

Is Houston In Violation Of Federal Regulations?

Even though it is a known carcinogen, the US EPA does not currently regulate chromium 6.  Instead, EPA lumps highly toxic chromium 6 into the same category as chromium 3 (a form of chromium that is an essential dietary nutrient).  Because chromium 6 is unregulated, water contaminated with high levels is considered "compliant" with federal regulations.  This is absurd.

Are These High Levels Due To A Recent Temporary Spike In Chromium 6?

No.  The local and nationwide stories are shining a light on a longstanding and ignored problem.  

How Can Houston Residents Reduce Their Exposure To Chromium 6? 

The only way to remove the chromium 6 from Houston's drinking water is to filter it out  with a water filter that is designed to remove chromium 6 or reverse osmosis.  Boiling or freezing water does not remove chromium 6.   

As always, we encourage people to take advantage of our "Help No Matter What" approach to technical support.  Our water quality experts will help you solve your problem, even if you have no intention of buying a Hydroviv Water Filter for your home. 

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Problems We Found With Chicago's Drinking Water

Kezia Snipe | Research Analyst   

For Hydroviv’s assessment of Chicago's water quality, we aggregated water quality test data from the City of Chicago Department of Water Management, the water provider for America’s third largest city, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as from samples that we collect and analyze.  We cross reference these data with toxicity studies in scientific and medical literature, and look at upcoming regulatory changes.  The water filters that Hydroviv offers are optimized with these numbers in mind.

Chicago's Polluted Source Water:  Lake Michigan

The City of Chicago pulls raw drinking water from Lake Michigan and treats it at two water treatment plants. The Jardine Water Purification Plant serves the northern areas of the City and suburbs, while the Sawyer Water Purification Plant serves the southern areas of the City and suburbs. Lake Michigan has a long history of pollution problems, including a recent chromium 6 release from an abutting steel facility

Lead Contamination In Chicago Tap Water

Lead enters tap water through older lead service pipes and lead-containing plumbing. Because an older city like Chicago has a large number of lead pipes, we are not surprised to find high lead levels in Chicago.  Additionally, recent media reports identified Chicago as a city that used "sampling cheats" to report artificially low concentrations.  Even so, in the most recent EPA data, 10% of samples analyzed for lead in Chicago were over 9 parts per billion. Though Chicago's water quality is technically in compliance with federal regulations, the EPA and CDC have both acknowledged that there is no safe level of lead, and federal regulations do not take into account levels measured at an individual tap.  First-draw samples that we pulled and analyzed for lead in Chicago (17 total) were all over 20 ppb.  We highly recommend that Chicago residents that live in the older part of the city filter their water for lead.

Chromium 6 Contamination In Chicago Tap Water

Chromium 6 is an extremely toxic metal that is not currently regulated by the EPA. In recent years, Chicago tap water has averaged 190 parts per trillion for Chromium 6.  For the sake of perspective, these levels are 9.5 times higher than the concentration determined to have negligible impact on cancer risk

Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs) In Chicago Drinking Water

DBPs are a category of emerging contaminants that form when chlorine-based disinfectants react with naturally-occurring organic matter.  Although these chemicals are not currently tightly regulated, the EPA has admitted that they are associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer, as well as kidney, liver, and central nervous system problems.

Chlorine Makes Chicago Tap Water Taste Bad

Like most other municipalities in the U.S., Chicago injects its water with chlorine to protect against waterborne illness. While not typically considered to be harmful on its own, many people find that removing chlorine from drinking water greatly enhances its taste and odor.   

Still Have Questions About Chicago Tap Water?

Hydroviv is a water filtration company that uses water quality data to optimize water filters for each city’s water.  The Chicago water pollution issues that we list above are what we consider to be “points of emphasis” so we can design and build the best water filter for Chicago tap water, but all of our water filters provide broad protection against other contaminants commonly found in drinking water (e.g. VOCs, lead, solvents, pesticides, mercury).

If you’re interested in learning more about water filters that have been optimized for Chicago's drinking water problems, feel free to visit www.hydroviv.com, reach out by email (hello@hydroviv.com) or through our live chat.  We also frequently post water-related news on Twitter or Facebook.

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Problems We Found With St. Louis Tap Water

Emma Schultz, M.S. | Scientific Contributor   

For our assessment of St. Louis' tap water quality, we aggregated water quality test data from the City of St. Louis Water Division, the water provider for St. Louis, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as from samples that we collect and analyze.  We cross reference these data with toxicity studies in the scientific and medical literature, and look at upcoming regulatory changes. The water filters that we sell in St. Louis are optimized with these water problems in mind.

Mississippi River: Source Of St. Louis Tap Water

St. Louis tap water is surface water-sourced. The Howard Bend water treatment facility draws water from the Mississippi River, and the Chain of Rocks treatment plant draws primarily from the Missouri River, though its location south of the confluence of Missouri and Mississippi Rivers means it sources Mississippi River water as well.

Alarming Levels Of Chromium 6 In St. Louis Tap Water

Chromium 6 is a highly toxic metal that, despite its toxicity, is not currently regulated by the EPA. St. Louis tap water has recently averaged a startling 1300 parts per trillion for chromium 6. To better understand why this should be of concern to St. Louis residents, these levels are 63 times higher than the concentration determined to have a negligible impact on cancer risk, and are the 2nd highest level in major U.S. cities (behind only Phoenix).  Because chromium 6 comes from the water supply (not the pipes), we HIGHLY recommend that all St. Louis residents take steps to filter chromium 6 from their water.  Boiling or freezing water does not remove chromium 6.  

Lead In St. Louis Tap Water

Lead enters into tap water through aged lead service pipes and lead-containing plumbing. When corrosion control measures fail (as recently happened in Flint, Michigan), lead leaches into the drinking water, and can reach toxic levels.  Recent analysis for lead in St. Louis found the 90th percentile of sampled concentrations at 1.55 parts per billion.  While the city is in compliance with federal regulations, EPA and CDC also acknowledge that there is no such thing as a safe level of lead. Of course, federal regulations also cannot take into account levels measured at an individual tap, so we encourage St. Louis residents that live in older homes to get their water tested by an accredited laboratory.  This article gives homeowners guidance on how to test for lead in the home.  

Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs) In St. Louis Tap Water

Disinfection byproducts (DBPs) are a type of emerging contaminants that occur when chlorine-based disinfectants, added to the water supply, combine with naturally-occurring organic matter found in the water.  While these chemicals are not well-regulated, the EPA has stated that they have been linked to increased risks of bladder cancer, and kidney, liver, and central nervous system problems. St. Louis tap water has recently had moderately high levels of the two regulated classes of DBPs, with a recent average of 60.9 ppb.

Chloramine Is Used In St. Louis Tap Water Instead of Chlorine

While most cities use chlorine as their primary disinfectant, St. Louis water is disinfected with chloramine (a product of chlorine and ammonia). Chloramine is primarily responsible for what customers often report as the “bad taste”of tap water, and unfortunately does not dissipate if a container of water is left in the fridge overnight. Most one-size-fits-all water filters use filtration media that doesn’t adequately remove chloramine, but the water filters that Hydroviv builds for St. Louis use special filtration media that are purpose-built to remove chloramine as well.

Still Have Questions About St. Louis Tap Water?

Hydroviv is a water filtration company that uses water quality data to optimize water filters for each city’s water.  The chemicals that we list above are what we consider to be “points of emphasis” so we can design and build the best water filter for St. Louis tap water, but all of our water filters provide broad protection against other contaminants commonly found in drinking water (e.g. VOCs, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, solvents, pesticides, mercury).

If you’re interested in learning more about water filters that have been optimized for St. Louis tap water problems, feel free to visit www.hydroviv.com, reach out by email (hello@hydroviv.com) or through our live chat.  We also frequently post water-related news on Twitter or Facebook.

Please Share This St. Louis Water Quality Article On Social Media With Anyone You Think Would Benefit From The Information!

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Contamination In Bethesda, MD's Drinking Water

Contamination In Bethesda, MD's Drinking Water

Eric Roy, Ph.D. | Scientific Founder   

For our assessment of Bethesda's tap water quality, we aggregated water quality test data from the Washington Suburban Sanitation Commission - the city’s water provider - and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as from samples that we have collected and analyzed (As a DC company, Bethesda is right in our own backyard).  We cross reference these data with toxicity studies in the scientific and medical literature, and look at upcoming regulatory changes. The custom water filters that we sell in Bethesda are optimized with these issues considered to be "points of emphasis."

Source Of Bethesda Drinking Water

Like Washington, DC, Bethesda's tap water is pulled directly from the Potomac River.  When the Maryland DEP did source water assessments for the Potomac River in 2002 and 2004, they determined that the most likely sources of contaminants in the Potomac watershed include runoff from urban and agricultural land uses, and potential spills from highways and petroleum pipelines. The following problems could also extend to Bethesda's neighboring communities of Rockville, Chevy Chase, Kensington, Garrett Park, and Silver Spring.

Chromium 6 In Bethesda Drinking Water

Chromium 6 is a toxic heavy metal that was brought into the public eye for the first time by the Erin Brockovich movie.  Unfortunately, despite a few public events, it remains unregulated by the EPA on its own.  In the most recent data, Bethesda's tap water recently averaged 190 parts per trillion for chromium 6.  While there's no federal standard for chromium 6 in drinking water, this concentration is  about 9 times higher than the concentration determined by the State of California to have a negligible impact on cancer risk.

Synthetic Organic Pollutants Detected In Bethesda's Drinking Water

The State of Maryland assessed the Potomac River Watershed a little over a decade ago, and found to identify potential sources of contamination.  WSSC detected dalapon (an herbicide), Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (a plasticzer, endocrine disruptor), testosterone (pharmaceutical horomonel), and 1,4 dioxane (an industrial chemical) in finished water that came from the Potomac supply.  

Lead In Bethesda Drinking Water

Unlike chromium 6 and synthetic organic pollutants, which come from source water contamination, lead is introduced into tap water when water comes into contact with older lead service pipes and lead-containing plumbing. When corrosion control measures fail, such as the country witnessed most recently in Flint (but also happened in Washington, DC in the early 2000's), lead leaches into the drinking water and reaches toxic levels. Recent sampling for lead in Bethesda found that the 90th percentile concentration for lead was roughly 1.4 parts per billion. While these concentrations do not trigger a violation of EPA's Lead and Copper Rule, the EPA and CDC have made it clear that there is no such thing as a safe level of lead. For perspective, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children do not drink from taps with detectable lead levels, and they urge that policy be changed so taps with lead levels over 1 part per billion are remediated immediately.  

Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs) In Bethesda Drinking Water

DBPs are a category of emerging contaminants that form when chlorine-based disinfectants react with naturally-occurring organic matter. These chemicals are not well regulated by EPA, although they have been associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer, as well as kidney, liver, and central nervous system problems, and the EPA acknowledges this.  Bethesda's disinfection byproduct levels are near (and sometimes cross the upper threshold) of allowable limits.

Still Have Questions About Bethesda's Tap Water?

Hydroviv is a water filtration company that uses water quality data to optimize water filters for each city’s water.  The chemicals that we list above are what we consider to be “points of emphasis” so we can build the best water filter for Bethesda tap water, but all of our water filters provide broad protection against other contaminants commonly found in drinking water (e.g. VOCs, heavy metals [including lead], pharmaceuticals, solvents, pesticides, mercury).

If you’re interested in learning more about water filters that have been optimized for Bethesda tap water, feel free to visit www.hydroviv.com, reach out by email (hello@hydroviv.com) or through our live chat.  We also frequently post water-related news on Twitter or Facebook.

Please Share This Bethesda Water Quality Article On Social Media With Anyone You Think Would Benefit From The Information!

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Problems We Found In Houston's Drinking Water

Kezia Snipe | Hydroviv Research Analyst   
For Hydroviv’s Houston water quality report, we aggregated water quality test data from the City of Houston Public Works, the water provider for America’s fourth largest city, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as from samples that we collect and analyze. We cross reference these data with toxicity studies in scientific and medical literature, and look at upcoming regulatory changes.  The water filters that our scientists build for our users in Houston are optimized with the following drinking water quality issues in the forefront of our mind.

Source Of Houston Drinking Water

Houston receives its drinking water from three water purification plants and 40 ground water plants. 16 additional groundwater plants provide for the remaining 5 Houston Water Systems.

Arsenic Concentrations In Houston Drinking Water

Arsenic is a toxic heavy metal that is known to cause cancer and other health issues. Unlike lead, which distributes into water from plumbing, arsenic comes from the source water itself. While Houston is in compliance with very loose EPA water quality standards, Houston's most recent tap water quality report listed an average arsenic concentration of 2 parts per billion. These levels triggered the municipality to make the following disclosure in the Consumer Confidence Report:

"Houston’s drinking water contains low levels of arsenic, but is below the state and federal action levels. EPA’s standard balances arsenic’s possible health effects against the costs of removing it from drinking water. EPA continues to research the health effects of low levels of arsenic, which is a mineral known to cause cancer in humans at high concentrations and is linked to other health effects such as skin damage and circulatory problems."

Hydroviv strongly recommends that anyone that lives in an area with more than 1 part per billion take steps to remove arsenic from their water, especially families with children.  

Lead Levels In Houston Drinking Water

Lead enters tap water through older lead service pipes and lead-containing plumbing. When lead pipes, fittings, and valves are present in a home, lead can leach into the drinking water, and can reach dangerous levels. In the most recent data provided by the City of Houston , 10% of samples analyzed for lead in Houston are 4 parts per billion. Though the city is currently in compliance with extremely loose federal regulations, the EPA and CDC have both acknowledged that there is no safe level of lead for children.  Additionally, the American Academy Of Pediatrics strongly urges any tap that produces water over 1 part per billion to be remediated immediately.  

Very High Chromium 6 Levels In Houston Drinking Water

Chromium 6 is an extremely toxic metal that is not currently regulated by the EPA. In recent years, Houston tap water has averaged 700 parts per trillion for Chromium 6. For the sake of perspective, these levels are 35 times higher than the concentration determined to have negligible impact on cancer risk.   Earlier this year, Dr. Eric Roy (Hydroviv's Founder) wrote a highly-cited article specifically on the high levels of chromium 6 in Houston's tap water, the original source can be viewed here.  

Pesticides And Petroleum Hydrocarbons Detected In Houston's Most Recent Round Of Testing 

Low levels of the herbicides atrazine and simazine (both endocrine disruptors), as well as xylenes (a petroleum based VOC) were reported in Houston's main system.  This isn't a huge surprise because of the types of activities 

Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs) In Houston Drinking Water

DBPs are a category of emerging contaminants that form when chlorine-based disinfectants react with naturally-occurring organic matter.  Although these chemicals are not currently regulated very well, the EPA's website discloses that exposure to high levels of these chemicals is associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer, as well as kidney, liver, and central nervous system problems.

Chlorine Levels In Houston Tap Water

Like most other cities in the U.S., Houston disinfects its water with chlorine to protect against waterborne illness. While not considered to be harmful on its own at levels found in tap water, people tend to find that filtering it from their water greatly enhances its taste and odor.  

Still Have Questions About Houston Tap Water Or Water Quality In General?

Hydroviv is a water filtration company that uses tap water quality data to optimize water filters for each customer's water. The contaminants that we list above are what we consider to be major “points of emphasis” that we use to build water filters that are built specifically for Houston, but our filters provide broad protection against a wide range of contaminants found in Houston's tap water.

If you’re interested in learning more about water filters that have been optimized for Houston's water, or have questions about our Houston water quality report, feel free to visit www.hydroviv.com, reach out by email (hello@hydroviv.com) or through our live chat. We also frequently post water-related news on Twitter or Facebook.  We pride ourselves in being a reputable source of information on tap water quality, and your questions will be answered by scientists, not salespeople (we don't have any salespeople on staff).

Please Share This Houston Water Quality Report Article On Social Media With Anyone You Think Would Benefit From The Information!

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Problems We Found In Fort Worth's Tap Water

Kezia Snipe | Research Analyst   

For Hydroviv’s assessment of Fort Worth's drinking water, we aggregated water quality test data from City of Fort Worth Water Department, the city’s water provider and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as from samples that we collect and analyze.  We cross reference these data with toxicity studies in the scientific and medical literature, and delve into upcoming regulatory changes.  The water filters that we offer  our users in Forth Worth are optimized with these figures in mind.

Source Of Fort Worth Drinking Water

Fort Worth uses surface water from Lake Worth, Eagle Mountain Lake, Lake Bridgeport, Richland Chambers Reservoir, Cedar Creek Lake, Lake Benbrook and the Clear Fork Trinity River. Fort Worth owns Lake Worth.  

Arsenic In Fort Worth Drinking Water

Arsenic is a toxic metal that is known to cause cancer and other health issues. Unlike lead, which leaches into water from plumbing, arsenic comes from the source water itself. Fort Worth's water quality is in compliance with the EPA’s loose water quality standards but it is very important to point out that EPA’s standard balances the toxicity against the costs of removing arsenic from drinking water at the municipal level.  The most recent Fort Worth water quality report reported an arsenic concentration up to 1.4 parts per billion for the city. Hydroviv recommends that anyone with more than 1 part per billion take steps to remove arsenic from their water, especially if children are in the home.   

Lead In Fort Worth Drinking Water

Lead enters tap water through older lead service pipes and lead-containing plumbing. When corrosion control measures put in place by the municipality fail (like what recently happened in Flint, Michigan), lead leaches into the drinking water, and can reach dangerous levels. Currently, 10% of Ft. Worth water samples analyzed for lead revealed concentrations of 3.2 parts per billion. Though Fort Worth's water quality is in compliance with federal regulations, EPA and CDC both acknowledge that there is no safe level of lead, and federal regulations do not take into account levels measured at an individual tap.  

Chromium 6 In Fort Worth Drinking Water

Chromium 6 (also known as hexavalent chromium) is a highly toxic metal that is not regulated by the EPA.  In recent years, Fort Worth’s drinking water has averaged 54 parts per trillion for Chromium 6. For a bit of perspective, these levels are 2.7 times higher than the concentration determined to have negligible impact on cancer risk

Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs) In Fort Worth Drinking Water

DBPs are a category of emerging contaminants that form when chlorine-based disinfectants react with naturally-occurring organic matter.  Although these chemicals are not currently regulated very well, the EPA website discusses the association between high levels of disinfection byproducts and an increased risk of bladder cancer, as well as kidney, liver, and central nervous system problems.

Chloramine Used To Disinfect Fort Worth Drinking Water

While most cities use chlorine as the primary disinfectant, Ft. Worth's water is disinfected with chloramine (produced by mixing chlorine and ammonia). Chloramine is primarily responsible for what many customers report as the “bad taste” of tap water, and unlike chlorine does not dissipate if a container of water is left in the refrigerator overnight.  Most one-size-fits-all water filters use filtration media that doesn’t do a great job removing chloramine, but the filters that we design and build at Hydroviv for Fort Worth uses special filtration media that is purposefully designed to remove chloramine as well.

Still Have Questions About Fort Worth Tap Water?

Hydroviv is a water filtration company that uses water quality data to optimize water filters for each customer's water.  The contaminants that we list above are what we consider to be major “points of emphasis” that we use to build water filters that are built specifically for Fort Worth, but our filters provide broad protection against a wide range of contaminants.

If you’re interested in learning more about water filters that have been optimized for Fort Worth tap water, or just have questions about water quality in general, feel free to visit www.hydroviv.com, reach out by email (hello@hydroviv.com) or through our live chat.  We also frequently post water-related news on Twitter or Facebook.  We pride ourselves in being a reputable source of information on water quality, and your questions will be answered by scientists, not salespeople (we don't have any salespeople).

Please Share This Fort Worth Water Quality Article On Social Media With Anyone You Think Would Benefit From The Information!

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