Arapahoe County’s tap water systems have all tested positive for the contaminant hexavalent chromium, or chromium-6. If chromium-6 sounds familiar to you, it’s because it is the carcinogenic chemical made infamous by the 2000 movie, Erin Brockovich. The Environmental Working Group has created an interactive US map of all the affected counties.
Two-thirds of the US is being served water at unsafe levels of chromium-6, including Arapahoe County. California is the only state to have instituted a negligible public health level which is .02 parts per billion. The average level found in Arapahoe County is .0771 ppb, over three times as much.
Where does chromium-6 come from?
It can occur naturally in some minerals, but it comes in heavier doses from industrial contamination and manufacturing facilities. It can leak into our water sources when facilities don’t follow proper waste disposal protocols.
How bad is chromium-6?
Cancer. So much cancer. Chromium-6 is dangerous at even low levels. Hinkley, California, the town made infamous for its contaminated water had levels as low as 2.5 ppb. Chromium-6 can cause various types of cancer, including respiratory, liver, kidney, and gastric.
What can we do at home?
The EWB has a water filtration shopping guide and they vary in price. It’s what you would expect, the more expensive, the better the quality. This still doesn’t solve the issue that our tap water should be safe in the first place.
Can’t I just use bottled water?
Well, you could, but it’s not a guarantee. Bottled water doesn’t have standards set to filter out chromium-6. Most bottled water companies get their water from the same place we do, the tap. Also, can you imagine the price? Would you seriously take a bath with just Evian?
Okay, so what should we really do? As far as a long term solution.
Unfortunately the Environmental Protective Agency is not doing enough to set federal regulations on the safety of our drinking water. The EWG does offer a petition you can sign online to set a national safety limit. The Arapahoe County Water and Wastewater Authority also hosts meetings that are open to the public. They’re on the second Wednesday of each month at 9:00AM at the ACWWA offices, 13031 E. Caley Ave. You can look up for additional events posted on their website at www.arapahoewater.org.