What can we do about Hexavalent Chromium in drinking water?
|December 20, 2010||Posted by karmadsen under blog, Drinking Water, Groundwater Cleanup, Groundwater Education, Groundwater in the News|
CNN reported today on a new study from the Environmental Working Group which tested the tap water of 35 American cities for hexavalent chromium. In 31 of those cities, the tap water turned out to be highly contaminated by the carcinogen, which has a known correlation with gastrointestinal tumors. According to the authors of the study, bottled water is not necessarily safer, and the only real solution is home water filtration.
In the past, I haven’t felt that warm and fuzzy about home water filtration. When handed a glass poured from a pitcher style filtration, I never really believed that people were changing the water filters enough. This not only meant that the drinking water wasn’t getting purified, but also that the filters were probably moldy (at least that’s what I imagined). Also, I wasn’t convinced that a couple ounces of carbon powder could do much to water that had passed through the serious treatment, filtration and monitoring that goes on at a municipal water supplier. The water filter seemed to serve more as a status symbol and psychological crutch, protecting the drinker from the bogy of the unseen and unknowable environmental pollutants that surround on all sides.
These days there are expanding options for more sophisticated home water filtration. Carbon filters that connect directly to the kitchen faucet are convenient, but vary wildly in quality and cannot remove many common inorganic pollutants, including arsenic, perchlorate, or hexavalent chromium. For the best water, the Environmental Working Group recommends combining reverse osmosis with a high-quality carbon filter. On their website, they list three reverse osmosis/carbon filtration systems, starting at $250, that can remove hexavalent chromium. This seems like a wise choice for people in a position to do it, but it won’t protect the poor, the disinterested, renters, or their children. It also can’t help us when we are at work, school, traveling, eating out, drinking a fountain soda, or drinking a bottled drink.
I still think that the ultimate solution will have to be for the government and the community to work together to protect the common resource and better maintain and improve municipal drinking water supply.