By Kym Gable

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Families in western Pennsylvania, and hundreds of millions more across the country, are drinking tap water containing a cancer-causing chemical.

The study has been ongoing since 2013. The findings, just released this week, point to dangerous levels of chromium-6 in just about every water system in our region. Critics call the results fear mongering, but the group itself is calling for new EPA standards.

Millions of Americans are taking a risk every time they turn on their faucet, according to a new report by the Environmental Working Group. The organization is made of independent advocates who act as water safety watchdogs.

The science regarding safe levels of chromium-6 or hexavalent chromium is uncertain. The EPA has never set a specific limit for the chemical in drinking water.

A toxic water supply containing chromium-6 was the focus of the 2000 film “Erin Brockovich.” Brockovich herself spoke out about the new study, saying people simply can’t continue to live with toxins in their water.

The National Toxicology Program found that water with chromium-6 caused cancer, liver damage and reproductive problems.

Pennsylvania American Water issued the following statement to KDKA:

The USEPA does not have specific drinking water regulations for chromium-6, only total chromium, which includes consideration of the health effects due to chromium-6. Pennsylvania American Water routinely tests its water supply for total chromium and all results have been in compliance with USEPA standards.

The new report indicates levels of the carcinogenic-heavy metal are at or above .03 parts per billion in 75 percent of the samples tested between 2013 and 2015.

The EPA is working on a new health assessment of chromium-6. That is expected to be released next year.

The list of affected local water systems can be found here.

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