In a recent study from the non-profit Environmental Working Group, many US cities may contain unhealthy levels of a known carcinogen called hexavalen chromium. The type of water contamination was made famous by the movie “Erin Brockovich”. For more information on this possible heath concern and for which cities have tested positive for hexavalen chromium, keep on reading after the jump.

drinking water

The Environmental Working Group released the findings of a nationwide study in which they sampled the water in 35 cities throughout the country, with an astonishing 31 cities testing positive for the chemical.

Hexavalen chromium does occur naturally, seeping into water supplies through ore. However, unhealthy levels of the cancer-causing chemical are usually caused by some form of manufacturing contamination. The chemical has been shown to cause cancer in humans when inhaled, but lab tests have shown it can be caused in animals when unsafe levels are ingested.

The state of California has proposed a health goal for hexalaven chromium in drinking water at .06 parts per billion, however there is not federal limit on how much of the chemical can be present in water. Of the 31 cities that tested positive, 25 of them were above the proposed California limit. This is causing federal agencies to reconsider their monitoring of public drinking water.

The concern of chromium contamination received a lot of attention following the release of “Erin Brockovich”, in which Julia Roberts portrayed the real-life environmental activist’s fight against utility companies in the city of Hinkley, California, where she discovered unhealthy levels of hexvalen chromium in the water. Her fight resulted in the local utility company, Pacific Gas & Electric, paying $330 million in damages to the community.

The cities that tested positive for hexavalen chromium are:

1. Norman, Oklahoma
2. Honolulu, Hawaii
3. Riverside, California
4. Madison, Wisconsin
5. San Jose, California
6. Tallahassee, Florida
7. Omaha, Nebraska
8. Albuquerque, New Mexico
9. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
10. Bend, Oregon
11. Salt Lake City, Utah
12. Ann Arbor, Michigan
13. Atlanta, Georgia
14. Los Angeles, California
15. Bethesda, Maryland
16. Phoenix, Arizona
17. Washington, D.C.
18. Chicago, Illinois
19. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
20. Villanova, Pennsylvania
21. Sacramento, California
22. Louisville, Kentucky
23. Syracuse, New York
24. New Haven, Connecticut
25. Buffalo, New York
26. Las Vegas, Nevada
27. New York, New York
28. Scottsdale, Arizona
29. Miami, Florida
30. Boston, Massachusetts
31. Cincinnati, Ohio

The cities tested that did not have the chemical in their water were Indianapolis; Plano, TX; Reno, NV; and San Antonio. If you live in one of the contaminated cities, it’s not time to panic just yet. Most of these cities showed levels of hexavalen chromium that were not yet to be considered a vast health concern just yet, but the fact that so many of the tested cities were positive for the chromium is spurring state and federal agencies to do more thorough testing to ensure the health of residents.

Normal home water filters, like Brita and PUR, do not remove the chemical, and bottled water may even be tainted, since there is no way of knowing if your bottled water was retrieved from city sources or if it had been properly filtered. However, there are some reverse osmosis filters that can eradicate the chromium from your water.

What do you guys think of the hexavalen chromium contamination? Do you live in any of these places and are concerned about the safety of your tap water? Leave us a comment and let us know, and check out the trailer for “Erin Brockovich” below.