The film ‘Erin Brockovich’ is one of the most beloved motion pictures of all-time among health and environmental activists.
But recent news reminding people of the popular movie is far from welcome, as it has been revealed that over 200 million Americans are likely being exposed to a potentially dangerous chemical spotlighted in the landmark film.
The chemical in question is chromium-6, and almost 25 years after Brockovich herself confronted a big-time corporate lawyer over its presence in real life, it still remains, according to recent research that has the whole country talking.
Chromium-6 Contaminating Water Everywhere
A new analysis of the United States’ water supply by the non-profit Environmental Working Group of federal data has shown that chromium-6 still lurks in our tap water, spanning all 50 states and the water sources of more than 200 million Americans.
The findings were announced in this blockbuster article from Senior Scientist David Andrews and Managing Editor Bill Walker.
According to state scientists in California and other states, the chemical may cause cancer even when ingested at extremely low levels. But as the EWG article notes, federal regulations on its presence are being held up because of a legal challenge from the chemical industry.
That means Americans wishing to avoid the chemical in their own water must take matters into their own hands.
Scientists, Activists vs. Corporate Power
In 2014, after a hard-hitting lobbying campaign by industry and water utilities, the legal limit of chromium-6 in the water supply was raised by 500 times the original public health goal set by california scientists of .02 parts per billion in tap water.
The limit was established after it was shown by scientists in three states that even minuscule amounts of chromium-6 can potentially cancer in people. The chemical typically comes from industries such as electroplating, leather tanning and textile according to AZCentral.com, or enters the water naturally from plants, rocks or soil in unbalanced amounts.
According to the latest EWG analysis of EPA tests, however, more than 7 million Americans are being served tap water from supplies that have had at least one detection of the chemical higher than the aforementioned legal limit. In total more than 200 million Americans are being exposed to the chemical.
The report said that the EPA only tests a small amount of small water systems and private wells that supply water to more than 1/3 of Americans, so contamination may be even more widespread than reported.
Chromium-6 was found in almost 90 percent of water systems sampled, the report continued, with the states of Oklahoma, Arizona and California having the highest levels on average and the most detections above the California public health goal.
Phoenix had by far the highest level at almost 400 times the limit, with St. Louis and Houston also testing at high levels of contaminantion.
Brockovich herself has already responded, saying the following about the findings: “Whether it is chromium-6, PFOA or lead, the public is looking down the barrel of a serious water crisis across the country that has been building for decades,” she said in a written statement Tuesday.
She blamed “corruption, complacency and utter incompetence” by officials as main reasons behind the findings.
For more on the EWG’s findings, including charts and an interactive map of areas affected, check out the full EWG article by clicking on this link.