I received a heads up from one of our readers this morning (thanks Cat) that CNN featured an article today on its website about the fact that the drinking water in of 31 out of 35 American cities tested, exceeded the recommended levels of Hexavalent Chromium (aka chromium 6). You can link to the CNN page at the end of this article. If the words Chromium 6 means nothing to you, just think back to the movie “Erin Brockovich” starring Julia Roberts that dealt with the poisoning of local water supplies by means of Chromium 6 by the local utility. Chromium 6 is a carcinogenic (cancer causing) compound. Should this be a concern to you? Absolutely. Is there an easy and inexpensive solution? Yes!
How to get rid of Chromium 6
The EPA has rated the best methods of removing Hexavalent Chromium (Chromium 6) for commercial applications to reduce the concentration down to 0.1 ppm (parts per million). First on the list is coagulation/filtraion, followed by ion exchange, then lime softening, and finally reverse osmosis. For a homeowner, ion exchange and reverse osmosis are practical applications.
In addition, it appears a number of other types of filters will remove Chromium 6 in a limited capacity including activated carbon filters and iron filters.
Therefore, anyone that currently uses an ion exchange system (available in a Brita filter or the new Antioxidant Filters) will be in good shape. If you use a reverse osmosis system, you will also be protected, but reverse osmosis has drawbacks when it comes to long term consumption of drinking water. If you have a basic charcoal pre-filter system under your counter, you should also be in good shape for the small amount of water that passes through the system.
Brita filters can be purchased at any Walmart or hardware store for under $20. Brita utilizes a brilliant marketing strategy whereby they basically sell their systems for a small profit so that they can sell you their high profit margin replacement filters for years. The Brita strategy follows the successful marketing campaign used by the Schick organization in the past. Schick used to mail out free razors and then sell you razor blades for years. The cost of replacement filters add up as they cost about $10 each and need to be replace every few weeks depending upon usage.
A more convenient and cost effective solution is to purchase and install an under counter filter canister that contains a granulated activated carbon (GAC) filter. You can purchase under counter pre-filters for about $69 at a store like Home Depot and the replacement filters should cost under $20 and will last a full year.
For those of you who use a water ionizer, you are covered by the activated charcoal in the filters. Water ionizers don’t remove a lot of the nasty stuff found in our water, but the filters in the machines all include carbon filters. The only water ionizer that I know of that doesn’t use activated carbon is the Chanson brand as they use a carbon block filter. If you are contemplating buying a water ionizer, the chromium 6 scare is as good a reason as any to take the plunge. Great water ionizers are now available for about $1,500, but should be viewed as an ionizer that performs minimal contaminant removal.
The best solution to removing chromium 6 and other contaminants that I know of from a basic filtration standpoint comes from the new Antioxidant Filters. The Antioxidant Filters provide a much more sophisticated filtration system than offered by all of the above alternatives. The Antioxidant Filters utilize an ion exchange system which is the best household remedy according to the EPA. The Antioxidant filters also provide activated carbon (or better still, catalytic carbon). The Antioxidant Filters start at $399 and should be viewed as a great contaminant filter that remove a myriad of contaminants plus they also ionize water.
Are you safe if you drink bottled water?
Maybe… but maybe not. The bottled water industry is not regulated. That means that the water that you drink out of a bottle may or may not have been filtered through an ion exchange system or even an activated charcoal filter. I have written a number of articles about the bottled water industry that clearly point out that you don’t know what you are getting, and you are definitely overpaying for what you are getting by a wide margin. Unless you need to grab a bottle of water in an emergency, there are many superior and cost effective solutions to hydrating your body. The only time I would ever recommend bottled water would be when your alternatives are limited to sodas or fruity sugar based juices.
Are there other contaminants that you should be worried about in your drinking water?
YES! I wrote an article in September based upon a story in the New York Times. The article discusses the fact that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified 60,000 contaminants found in the USA. Eventually, all contaminants find their way into the water supply. While 60,000 contaminants exist in our water supply, the Safe Drinking Water Act only covers 91 of the contaminants. You can read the article here: http://www.waterfyi.com/water-news/tap-water-unhealthy-new-york-times/
While Chromium 6 is the flavor of the day because of the new study, it represents only one of sixty thousand problems that may be in your drinking water.
You can read the article from CNN here: http://pagingdrgupta.blogs.cnn.com/2010/12/20/carcinogen-found-in-31-of-35-cities-water-supply/?hpt=T2
While many news items are generated to catch the attention of the public so that more viewers/subscribers will tune in. Why else would we be exposed to the never ending fluff pieces that appear everywhere? The Chromium 6 article is not a fluff piece and people should be taking it seriously. However, chromium six is just the tip of the iceberg as there are many more contaminants in our drinking water that can and do hurt us.
Please take this issue to heart and make the decision to install some kind of water purification system in your home. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to look after your health and the health of your family. Water is not a priority for most people, but it is the most important thing that you put in your body.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.