Should You Drink from your Chicago Sink?

December 21, 2010

How’s the water in your Chicago home?

Remember the movie Erin Brockovich? It’s about a woman who fights for residents who were getting cancer because of harmful chromium in their tap water.

It’s based on a true story, and that story is taking center stage again after a report released this week showed the presence of hexavalent chromium, or chromium-6, in water supplies of cities across the nation, including Chicago.

The Environmental Working Group had an independent laboratory test for the cancer-causing metal in treated drinking water from 35 cities. Thirty-one of them showed dangerous levels of the carcinogen in their water, including Chicago.

The amount in Lake Michigan was 0.18 parts per billion (ppb), almost three times the “public health goal” level that California health officials proposed last year.

The top chromium-contaminated city was Norman, Oklahoma, whose 12.9 ppb level is more than 200 times California’s proposed safe limit.

“Our water meets or exceeds every standard by U.S. EPA and the Illinois EPA and it is 100 percent safe,” said Chicago water commissioner Thomas Powers.

Even though scientists have linked ingestion of hexavalent chromium to cancer, the Environmental Protection Agency does not require cities to test for the toxic metal and does not limit its presence in drinking water.

The EWG report recommended that the EPA should establish a legal limit for the chemical in tap water and require water utility companies to test for it.

Until that happens, there are systems available to residents so they can test their own water.

Not-for-profit Water Quality Association has lots of information for homeowners and urge concerned consumers to learn more at

“This report is one more piece of evidence to consumers that final barrier technology should be utilized to provide a sense of confidence for their families’ water,” said Peter J. Censky, executive director of WQA.

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[…] Chicagoland Real Estate Forum recently reported about the presence of hexavalent chromium in the Chicago area’s water supply. […]

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