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

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 the 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 chromium 6 from 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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