Many of us have heard of hexavalent chromium
because we have seen the movie Erin Brockovich, in which the heroine of the movie works with a lawyer to win a lawsuit against a company that has poisoned a community by letting hexavalent chromium seep into the local water table. Sadly, the movie is based on a true story. And it's true that we need to be vigilant in our awareness of hexavalent chromium (also called chromium (VI), abbreviated as Cr(VI) ). See more information on chromium below.
Hexavalent chromium is an extremely toxic substance that is dangerous when inhaled or because of prolonged skin contact. It may seem unlikely for people to have prolonged contact with hexavalent chromium, but the fact is that it does occur. Chromium is a naturally occurring metal. It is often used in electroplating of metals. Although chromium is not currently mined in the U.S., waste from old mining operations may enter surface and ground water through runoff and leaching. Exposure at high levels has been shown to result in chronic toxic effects such as dermatitis, ulceration of skin or liver, and kidney damage in animals and humans by ingestion.
People who work with pigments that are made with dry chromate, or spray paints or coatings that are made with chromates, or who work as welders or cutters of metals such as stainless steel (which contains chromium), are all at risk for toxic exposure to hexavalent chromium.
Hexavalent chromium can cause lung cancer. Chromium, which exists in three forms (divalent, trivalent, and hexavalent) is carcinogenic only when it is hexavalent chromium. By comparison, chromium III (trivalent chromium) is actually necessary to the body to metabolize sugar. It is important to remember this distinction.
The NIH released a study in May 2007 that indicated that hexavalent chromium can cause cancer when ingested through drinking water. This had been suspected but no studies had been able to offer significant proof of the theory; researchers did find, however, that lab animals developed tumors in their mouths after exposure to hexavalent chromium through their drinking water. The EPA
has determined the MCL for hexavalent chromium is 0.1 ppm.
The recommended treatment method for chromium reduction is Distillation or Reverse Osmosis