SEP 20, 2016
[Sara Jerome is a freelance reporter who covers policy. She previously held staff positions at National Journal, The Hill, and the Financial Times Group.]
Thousands of Americans drink tap water poisoned by unsafe levels of a cancer-causing heavy metal, and government authorities are doing little to stop it, according to a new report from clean water activists.
The chemical hexavalent chromium, also known as chromium-6, gained notoriety as the carcinogenic water contaminant that Erin Brockovich sued a utility over in California—and the new report from advocacy organization Environmental Working Group finds that it shows up in the water systems of major cities all over the country.
The data estimates that water supplies serving 218 million Americans—more than two-thirds of the population—contain more chromium-6 than California scientists have deemed safe. The group estimated that if nothing changes, chromium-6 in tap water will lead to more than 12,000 excess cases of cancer by the end of the century.
The findings are one more sign of a broken state and federal regulatory system that enabled crises in Flint, Michigan, and Hoosick Falls, New York, among other cities where dangerous contaminants in tap water threatened public health, advocates say.
Check your locality with the following Map: