Some Oregonians are apparently fretting over chromium-6 (Cr-6) in drinking water. Here’s why they (and you) shouldn’t.
The current round of Cr-6 scaremongering began last December with headlines like this from the Washington Post: “Group finds ‘Erin Brockvich’ chemical in D.C., Bethesda Water“.
The comrades at the Environmental Working Group reportedly found hexavalent chromium (Cr-6) in drinking water across the country at levels up to 200 times greater than the goal proposed by California (0.06 ppb). Cr-6 reportedly is associated with increased cancer risk in laboratory mice.
But before you swear off tap water, run to your doctor, join a class action lawsuit or do anything other than simply roll on the floor laughing at Ken Kook and his fellow EWG Krazies, here’s a few things to consider:
- Outside of a hotly disputed study of a 1970s-era Chinese population, epidemiologic studies have not associated Cr-6 exposure with increased risk of cancer. Even the EPA acknowledges this (See p. 207 of April 2010 EPA review document). Then there’s this comment from a review of the Cr-6 epidemiology:
The weight of scientific evidence supports that Cr-6 is not carcinogenic in humans via the oral route of exposure at permissible drinking-water concentrations. [J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2002 May 24;65(10):701-46.]
- Mice are not little people. So who cares whether lab mice poisoned with Cr-6 got cancer or did cartwheels?
- No violations of the EPA drinking water standard for chromium were reported. While there are no specific drinking water standards for Cr-6, the EPA oral reference dose (RfD) for Cr-6, which includes a monster safety factor of 300, is way above the levels of Cr-6 detected by EWG.
- The proposed California standard for Cr-6 is not science-based.
- Research shows that Cr-6 is safe in water at a level of 100 ppb.
- The EWG specializes in efforts to scare people about the mere presence of chemicals and metals in drinking water. The group seems to be impervious to Paracelsus’ 450-year-old basic toxicology principle that “the dose makes the poison.”
- Stier J and Miller H, Don’t buy into the chromium-6 hysteria, San Jose Mercury News, January 11. 2011.
- Mulder J, Experts say public doesn’t need to be alarmed about tests showing chromium-6 in local water, Syracuse Post-Standard, January 2, 2010.
- Dini J, Where’s the balanced reporting?, Hawaii Reporter, December 29, 2010.
- Scientists skeptical of chromium in drinking water – Report, SteelGuru.com, December 26, 2010.
- Miller H, Diluting the ‘chromium-6 in water’ panic, The Guardian, December 26, 2010.
- Logomasini A, Environmental Working Group Should Win Annual Junk-Science Award, OpenMarket.org, December 23, 2010.
- Milloy S, EWG pulls an ‘Erin Crockovich, GreenHellBlog.com, December 19, 2010.
- Whelan E, Erin Brockovich: Ivy League Junk Science, Washington Times, September 27, 2005.