'Erin Brockovich' Carcinogen in Tap Water of More than 200 Million Americans
September 20, 2016

'Erin Brockovich' Carcinogen in Tap Water of More than 200 Million Americans: Frequently Asked Questions

Chromium-6: Frequently Asked Questions


Why is California’s legal limit for chromium-6 in drinking water so much higher than what state scientists said is safe?

The safe level, or public health goal, is what the scientists calculated would protect against cancer if consumed over a lifetime. The state’s Division of Drinking Water Quality is supposed to set the legal limit as close as feasible to the health goal while considering utilities’ costs of treating the water. EWG and other groups maintain that the division overestimated the cost of treatment and underestimated the public health benefits of a stricter legal limit.


Can home water filters remove chromium-6?

Reverse osmosis filters are the most effective for removing chromium-6 from your tap water. These filters are more expensive, but will remove not only chromium-6 but also most other contaminants. For more information, see EWG’s water filter guide.


At what level of chromium-6 should I filter my tap water?

California’s public health goal for chromium-6 is 0.02 parts per billion, representing a one-in-a-million chance of getting cancer from drinking the water every day for 70 years. New Jersey and North Carolina state scientists calculated a slightly higher value for a one-in-a-million risk, 0.06 parts per billion. See the our nationwide map to find the level of chromium-6 in your tap water.


Is bottled water safer?

Not necessarily. A recent study of 10 bottled water samples found chromium-6 levels ranging from 0.02 parts per billion (the California public health goal) to 1.2 parts per billion. If you do purchase bottled water, seek out a brand that has disclosed its chromium-6 test results, and for the highest level of safety choose a brand with levels below the one-in-a-million risk level calculated by California, or by New Jersey and North Carolina.


Does stainless steel cookware leach chromium into food?

Stainless steel used in cookware is typically 18 percent chromium by weight. Published studies have shown that chromium, but not chromium-6, leaches out of stainless steel when it comes into contact with water or acidic substances like vinegar. In one recent study, no chromium-6 was detected during or after a 10-day test using a method that would have detected levels of 0.1 parts per billion or higher.