Group cautions cancerous drinking water

By Jena Johnson - bio | email | Twitter

TYLER, TX (KLTV)- You may remember the movie Erin Brockovich based on a true story of a cancerous chemical discovered in some California drinking water.

Now, according to a new study by the Environmental Working Group, that chemical, known as hexavalent chromium, is in the water that at least 74-million Americans drink daily.

The City of Tyler says until the Environmental Protection Agency urges the testing, they're not too concerned.

Some scientists say we drink it everyday and don't even know it. Right now, the EPA doesn't force water utility companies to test for hexavalent chromium. It's a chemical the environmental working group has deemed cancerous.

"We are not overly concerned at this time with this one," said Greg Morgan, Director of Utilities and Water Supply for the City of Tyler. "We do not test for the hexavalent chromium, but we do test for the total chromium."

Majority of the city's water comes from Lake Tyler. The city says if chromium levels began to sky rocket that would signal a major problem, possibly even contamination, but right now it's just not an issue.

"It's just not in the water," said Morgan. "We don't have a source of contamination that's polluting our drinking supply."

Morgan says the total chromium level in the city's drinking water is 2 parts per billion, well below the 100 parts per billion limit set by the EPA.

But the Environmental Working Group is urging the EPA to set a legal limit on hexavalent chromium.

"I'd certainly want the water tested for it," said Kim Massie, Tyler resident.

Massie and her daughter spend a lot of time at Lake Tyler. She says she'd feel safer if the carcinogenic chemical was tested periodically.

"You require water in order to live, so you certainly want to make sure that that's healthy also," she said.

But until the EPA changes the chemicals water companies have to test for, Morgan says it will go untested.

"We will wait and test according to EPA requirements for safe drinking water," he said.

Which leaves the Environmental Working Group asking just how long can we wait.

Out of the 35 cities tested by the Environmental Working Group, 31 one of those had cancerous levels of hexavalent chromium. With Norman, Oklahoma topping the list.

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