‘Erin Brockovich’ carcinogen in tap water


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Environmental Working Group released a study that indicates more than 200-million Americans have a cancer-causing chemical in their tap water which goes by three names, hexavalent chromium, chromium-6 or the ‘Erin Brockovich’ chemical.

Erin Brockovich was the paralegal who crusaded against a power company that polluted the tap water of a California community with the chemical.

“It causes certain types of cancers, nose, throat, sometimes lung cancer if inhaled for the most part.”

In the study conducted by EWG, there is an interactive map where participants can pinpoint where they live and to see how much chromium-6 was discovered in their community. According to the EWG map, the Richmond-Henrico County area indicated that the region’s water is far below federal and other guidelines for being considered dangerous.

Randolph-Macon College Chemistry Professor Serge Schreiner said if breathed in heavily, amounts of chromium-6 can be dangerous.

“It causes certain types of cancers, nose, throat, sometimes lung cancer if inhaled for the most part,” said Schreiner.

However, the college department chairman said the amount of the chemical found in our region is extremely minuscule; it is measured in parts per billion.

“There are several ways to look at it. Sometimes people say how large a number a billion is,” Schreiner said. “Jesus lived about a billion minutes ago. Some people say roughly one billion PPB is about one drop in an Olympic-size swimming pool.”

The professor said he would continue to drink water from his tap and there is no need to stock up on bottled water.

“In my opinion, I don’t think so. I think our water is perfectly safe to drink. I’ve always been drinking so I’m not going to change my habits of drinking water. I’m going to keep drinking the water that comes out of my faucet,” Schreiner said emphatically.

Find 8News on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram; send your news tips to iReport8@wric.com.

Comments are closed.