(WASHINGTON) -- An environmental group is set to release a study that found the probable carcinogen hexavalent chromium is present to some degree in the drinking water supplies of 31 American cities. The Environmental Working Group report is due out on Monday.
The Environmental Protection Agency has not set acceptable limits for hexavalent chromium in tap water but is about to do so. California has proposed a limit of 0.06 parts per billion. It is the chemical at the center of the fact-based 2000 film, Erin Brockovitch.
The Environmental Working Group surveyed 35 cities and found the substance in the water of 31 of them. Of the 31 cities, 25 water supplies exceeded the proposed goal in California. The highest levels, at more than 200 times the California figure, were in Norman, Okla.
Hexavalent chromium was commonly used in many industrial processes 20 and 30 years ago and is still used in some today.
The American Chemistry Council represents the chemical industry and told the Washington Post the California goal is unrealistic because some water supplies have hexavalent chromium levels higher than the California proposal that occur naturally. Medical experts tell the Post the study is "disturbing" and say the U.S. should strive to have no hexavalent chromium in drinking supplies, or at least limit it to the California goal.
Hexvalent chromium has been known to cause lung cancer when inhaled but recent research on animals shows it causes other potentially deadly conditions when ingested.
The Environmental Working Group says on its website it is dedicated to using public information to protecting the public and the environment. Most of its funding comes from grants and private donations.
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