If you watched the film “Erin Brockovich” you should be familiar with the story of a California town, the contamination of its water, and its effect on the local community. A study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which has a mission of empowering people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment, shows that Conshohocken and 41 other communities in Pennsylvania have the same chemical from the California case in their water. From the Patch:
At least 42 Pennsylvania communities have the cancer-causing toxin in their drinking water that was made famous in the 2000 Julia Roberts movie “Erin Brockovich,” according to a new study published Tuesday by the Environmental Working Group.
The toxin Chromium-6 causes cancer, reproductive problems and liver damage even from little exposure, the report says, although none of the towns on the list exceed the U.S. Environmental Protection’s maximum of 100 parts per billion of total chromium.
Instead, the Environmental Working Group identified towns that exceed 0.02 parts per billion in tap water, a level that California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment set as a public health goal in 2011. The goal was set nearly after Brockovich was successful in building a case against the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) of California in 1993 that blamed the company for contaminating local water.
What is Chromium? From the EWG report:
Chromium is a naturally occurring element but can also be manufactured. The two main types are chromium-3, an essential human nutrient considered to be mostly harmless, and chromium-6, which has long been known to cause lung cancer when airborne particles are inhaled. Recent science has also shown that, when ingested, it can cause stomach cancer. Chromium-6 is used in chrome plating, wood and leather treatments, dyes and pigments, and the water in cooling towers of electrical power plants.