City to Test Water for "Brockovich" Chemical

EPA urges additional screening for hexavalent chromium

By Hannah Chanpong
|  Wednesday, Jan 12, 2011  |  Updated 10:27 AM CDT
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City to Test Water for "Brockovich" Chemical

ASSOCIATED PRESS

About 40 people in Vernon were without water Thursday after a water main broke on East Main Street.

Chicago soon will be tapping into your tap water.

City officials announced Tuesday their plans to test Chicago water for hexavalent chromium, the cancer-causing metal that recent studies show is more dangerous -- and more prevalent -- than previously thought, The Chicago Tribune reports.

The announcement came after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a memo "strongly" encouraging public water systems to step up chromium monitoring. The memo specifically recommended "additional sampling and analysis" of hexavalent chromium, or chromium-6.

It is well known as the chemical under question in the film "Erin Brockovich."

The EPA recommends that systems with surface water sources, such as lakes or rivers, take samples quarterly. According to the Tribune, city officials have promised to post the results of these quarterly tests online.

A study by the Environmental Working Group showed the level of hexavalent chromium in water pumped to the Chicago area was 0.18 parts per billion. It's not in violation of the EPA standard, but it's nine times over the safe limit proposed by California officials last month.

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