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Is your tap water giving you cancer?

Is your tap water giving you cancer?

I’m sure you remember the Erin Brokovich story—maybe you’ve even seen the movie. It’s the story about a woman almost single-handedly brought justice to hundreds of people of Hinkley, California, who had been sickened by the water poisoned by a local power company.

But this wasn’t just a Hollywood hit—it was a true story. And unfortunately, this chemical’s horror story didn’t end when the credits began to roll. Because just recently…

Tap water all over the nation tested positive for the same deadly carcinogen from the Erin Brokovich story

The chemical is called hexavalent chromium, or chromium-6. Just this past September, the Environmental Protection Agency finally got around to labeling this chemical as a “probable carcinogen.” It took them long enough. This highly toxic chemical has been linked to stomach cancer and gastrointestinal cancer.

It’s particularly dangerous for your grandkids. Young kids—even those still in the womb—are especially vulnerable to carcinogenic chemicals. Because their organs are still developing, their bodies aren’t able to get rid of the toxins as well as an adult’s would.

But no matter how old (or young) you are, this toxin is bad news—and you could be ingesting it every single day.

After the Erin Brokovich story, the state of California set a goal limiting the amount of chromium-6 to .06 parts per billion (ppb). The irony is that tests only measure levels at 1 ppb or higher—which means that if there’s enough chromium-6 to register on the scale, you’re already 16 times higher than the recommended “safe” levels (as if there’s even a safe level of this carcinogen to begin with: “I’ll just have a little poison, please.”).

In California alone—where 438 communities have provided data on their chromium-6 levels to the EWG—50 percent had levels about 1 ppb, and 21 percent had levels about 5 ppb.

That’s more than 83 times higher than California’s “acceptable” limit.

Do the math, and that comes to 13.7 million Californians who are drinking water that’s contaminated with this toxic chemical.

The picture of the rest of the U.S. isn’t much better. Thirty-one of 35 cities had detectable levels of chromium-6, but 25 of them had levels higher than California’s proposed goal. One city showed 12.9 ppb.

As if that’s not bad enough, the reality is likely far worse.

You see, not all chromium is created equal. And while chromium-6 could kill you, chromium-3 (technically called trivalent chromium) is an essential nutrient. The problem is that, in typical big business ineptitude, most water utilities only test total chromium levels, without even bothering to differentiate between the kind that could kill you and the kind your body needs.

To make matters worse, the presence of chlorine in your water can actually change the good kind of chromium into the bad kind. (Yet one more reason to remove chlorine from the water supply.)

Erin Brockovich (the real one, not the actor) said, “There is no reason why we can’t address this without sounding some kind of panic alarm, which [critics] are going to accuse us of doing.” Well, from where I’m standing…

If there was ever a reason to sound a panic alarm, this is it.

And it’s not some sort of publicity-seeking, attention-hogging, 15-minutes-in-the-spotlight type of alarm. These are people’s lives we’re talking about. And the 600 or so people of Hinkley, California, are only going to be a drop in the bucket compared to the havoc this little chemical will wreak on the nation—and possibly the world—if it’s not regulated.

Here’s what to do:

If you’re sitting around waiting for the Environmental Protection Agency to do any protecting, you could be feeding a tumor with each gulp of that potentially carcinogen-laced tap water.

Fact is, the EPA hasn’t set an enforceable drinking water standard for a contaminant in a decade.

That includes regulating chromium-6.

And if you think bottled water is the answer, you’re drinking from the wrong well. There’s no legal limit for chromium-6 in bottled water, which means it could have just as much as your tap water.

EWG’s Jane Houlihan said, “It’s buyer beware with bottled water. The bottled water industry promotes its products as pure and healthy, but our tests show that pollutants in some popular brands match the levels found in some of the nation’s most polluted big city tap water systems. Consumers can’t trust that what’s in the bottle is anything more than processed, pricey tap water.”

The safest water you can drink is the kind you filter yourself at home using a reverse osmosis filter. These are the best filters available because they sift out heavy metals and contaminants. The filter should be placed where the water comes into the house so that it covers the water supply going through your entire home.

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