Now that the Flint, MI lead in water crisis has seemed to pass, or at least dropped out of the news, a new water crisis has surfaced. Under an Environmental Protection Agency program from 2013-2015, 60,000 water samples from local utilities found Chromium-6 or hexavalent chromium in 75% of samples tested. This is the very same substance that was featured in the movie Erin Brockovich and resulted in a settlement with Pacific Gas and Electric Company, or PG&E in 1996 for a record $333 million to compensate the citizens of Hinkley, California, for deaths, increased cancer rates, and birth defects.
Meanwhile, according to Environmental Working Group (EWG), nearly 200 million Americans are currently being exposed to this toxicant through their drinking water. Among major cities, Phoenix had by far the highest average levels at almost 400 times the California public health goal as specified by California scientists. Unfortunately, the California safe exposure limit was overrun by other corporate interests and was actually set at 500 times the proposed level, so presumably California did not learn from the Erin Brockovich tale. .
According to one exhaustive report, over 2100 contaminants have been detected in U. S. drinking water since 1974 with 190 known or suspected to cause adverse health effects at certain concentration levels. In total, 97 carcinogens and suspected carcinogens, 82 mutagens and suspected mutagens, 28 acute and chronic toxic contaminants and 23 tumor promoters have been detected in U. S. drinking water since 1974, including:
- perchlorate (rocket fuel),
- pharmaceuticals including hormones and anti-depressants
- lead (excessive lead levels found in almost 2,000 water systems across all 50 states)
- arsenic and other heavy metals
- perfluorinated chemicals
- bisphenol A (BPA)
While chromium-6 also occurs naturally in our water supply (earth leeches elements into our water tables) most of the chromium-6 excessive levels in water supplies is a result of industrial activities. And as our bodies are predominantly made up of water, the health impacts of toxicants in our water supply should not be ignored . My advice is to filter, filter, filter.
I recommend a Reverse Osmosis (RO) water filter system in the house. These can be purchased at a hardware store and installed under the sink. Be sure to read the instructions that tell you when you change out the filters. There are also water stores where you can bring your own containers to get RO water which is cheaper than the initial investment in an RO system. But if you do that, be sure to store the water in glass containers otherwise you are getting BPA and other plastic chemicals in your water. You must also add minerals to the water because the pore size on the filters are so small, that not only do all the chemicals get filtered out, so do the minerals. I like to use the minerals in liquid form so they can be dropped into the water.
Alternately get spring water bottled in glass containers. Go to www.findaspring.com
to find the nearest spring in your area. In California, the nearest spring to me is Carlsbad Mineral Spa, where fresh, spring (not tap water put through a Reverse Osmosis filter), non-chlorinated, non-fluoridated water with a pH of 8.7 (due to the naturally occurring minerals) water is available for 0.50 gallon. Yes, real spring water is still available!
You know that warm, fuzzy feeling you get after taking a nice, hot shower? The chlorine that is commonly used as a water treatment combines with organic matter to form compounds called trihalomethanes, which are disinfectant byproducts. One of the most common ones is chloroform, which is a known carcinogen. Chloroform also notoriously replaced ether as an inhaled anesthetic in the early 20th century, but was quickly abandoned once its toxicity was noted. Inhaled and dermal absorption of chloroform in a typical 10 minute shower typically exceeds the amount of chlorine in water consumed in a day.
I also recommend getting a shower filter to filter out chlorine from your shower water. One side benefit is that your hair is left more soft and silky, and your hair coloring doesn’t fade as quickly. Chlorine is also drying to your skin, so your skin is left more soft as well. The shower filter I have used and recommended the most is Rainshower Filter.
One of the biggest steps you can take in avoiding environmental toxins in your home is to to install a high quality reverse osmosis water system into your home, along with a shower filter. Store water in glass containers. Invest in stainless steel or glass bottles, encased in silicone sleeves, to carry water around with you. Make your coffee or tea with filtered water. If you can find pure spring water, that is the best option.