PITTSBURGH (KDKA/CNN) – Hundreds of millions of Americans, including those in Western Pennsylvania, are drinking water contaminated with a cancer-causing chemical.
A new report by the Environmental Working Group shows that just about every water system in our region is contaminated by the carcinogen chemical chromium-6.
There is scientific uncertainty regarding safe levels of the chemical in drinking water and possible long-term consequences of ingestion.
Chromium-6 was really exposed for the first time by the movie Erin Brockovich.
The new report indicates that levels of chromium-6 are at or above 0.03 parts per billion in 75% of the samples tested by local water utilities on behalf of the EPA between 2013 and 2015.
Seven million Americans receive tap water with levels of chromium-6 that are higher than the legal limit established by California — 10 ppb — which is the only state to enforce a maximum contaminant level.
In 2008, a two-year study by the National Toxicology Program found that drinking water with chromium-6, or hexavalent chromium, caused cancer, reproductive problems, and liver damage.
The group identified towns where water samples exceeded 0.02 parts per billion in tap water.
That’s the level that California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment set as a public health goal in 2011.
None of the areas on the list exceed the U.S. Environmental Protection’s maximum of 100 parts per billion of total chromium.
EWG estimates that if left untreated, chromium-6 in tap water will cause more than 12,000 excess cases of cancer by the end of the century.
Here is a list of towns, and water agencies that exceeded the report’s acceptable level of Chromium-6 in tap water. If you’d like to check your specific zipcode or learn more about the findings, click here.
- Ambridge Water Authority
- Beaver Falls Municipal Authority
- Buffalo Twp. Municipal. Authority
- Center Township Water Authority
- Charleroi Borough Municipal Authority
- Cranberry Township
- Creswell Heights Joint Authority
- Fox Chapel Authority
- Freeport-Southwestern PA Water Authority
- Hampton Shaler Water Authority
- Harrison Township Water Authority
- Highridge Water Authority
- Kittanning Suburb Joint Water Authority
- Latrobe Municipal Authority
- Monroeville Municipal Authority
- Moon Township Municipal Authority
- Morgantown Utility Board
- New Kensington Municipal Authority
- North Fayette County Municipal Authority
- Oakmont Borough Municipal Authority
- PA American Water Co. – Brownsville
- PA American Water Co. – Butler
- PA American Water Co. – Connellsville
- PA American Water Co. – Ellwood Cty.
- PA American Water Co. – New Castle
- PA American Water Co. – Pittsburgh
- PA American Water Co. – Uniontown
- Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority
- Plum Borough Municipal Authority
- Robinson Township Municipal Authority
- W. Allegheny County Municipal Authority
- West County Municipal Authority – McKeesport
- Westmoreland County Municipal Authority – McKeeport
- Westmoreland County Municipal Authority – Sweeney Plant
- Westmoreland County Municipal Authority – Yough Plant
- West View Borough Municipal Authority
- Wilkinsburg-Penn Joint Water Authority
Pennsylvania American Water issued the following statement about the findings:
At Pennsylvania American Water, we take water quality and safety very seriously. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection set water quality standards designed to protect public health and Pennsylvania American Water treats our customer’s drinking water to meet or surpass these standards, including those set for chromium.
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 the USEPA standards. We are also voluntarily sample for chromium-6 in accordance with USEPA guidance.
Pennsylvania American Water, and our parent company American Water, is supporting national research through the Water Research Foundation to better monitor and treat for chromium-6. The USEPA is also conducting a rigorous and comprehensive review of health effects of chromium-6. Our water quality experts are closely following this research and if necessary, will be ready to implement changes in our testing and treatment.
Water quality results on chrome-6 and other parameters can be found on American Water’s website. Enter your zip code or city/state to get information on your specific water quality. There you will find the annual Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) and a basic water quality summary with links to additional information on chrome-6.