Recently, an environmental group reported that the tap water of more than 30 U.S. cities contains hexavalent chromium, a probable carcinogen which was made famous by the Erin Brockovich film.
The chromium in question is hexavalent chromium and has many industrial uses in the manufacture of paints, dyes, and plastics. But, is this type of chromium in drinking water toxic to human health?
Hexavalent chromium has been linked to lung cancer but this is through inhalation exposure. While this chemical has been linked to cancers and liver/kindey damage in animals orally fed water containing hexavalent chromium, no studies have conclusively proved the same happens in humans.
Furthermore, hexavalent chromium should not be confused with the dietary supplement chromium. This type of chromium is known as trivalent chromium or more commonly as chromium picolinate and has a biological role in blood sugar regulation.
If you want to protect yourself from the hexavalent chromium in drinking water, you can try drinking water that has been treated by reverse osmosis. Regular water filters such as the Brita filters are ineffective in removing hexavalent chromium from water.
For more information, read the article in the Washington Post.