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Green group finds contaminated tap water in Ann Arbor

An example of a chromium compound (chrom(VI)-oxide)
user BXXXM - wikimedia commons
An example of a chromium compound (chrom(VI)-oxide)

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) says it commissioned a study that tested tap water in 35 cities across the United States and found a cancer causing chemical in 31 of the cities they tested.

In Michigan, the EWG tested for evidence of hexavalent chromium in Ann Arbor's water supply and found the chemical at .21 parts per billion. The group says a proposed "safe" level in California is .06 parts per billion.

The group says:

In all, water samples from 25 cities contained the toxic metal at concentrations above the safe maximum recently proposed by California regulators.

The chemical in question is hexavalent chromium.

The chemical was made infamous in the film Erin Brokovich. Brokovich uncovered hexavalent chromium pollution in a small town's water supply. Pacific Gas and Electric Company was eventually held liable for the pollution.

In the Washington Post, Brokovich is quoted about the EWG's study released today:

"This chemical has been so widely used by so many industries across the U.S. that this doesn't surprise me."

Hexavalent chromium is used to produce stainless steel, dyes, wood preservatives and many other things.

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody spoke with an official with the Ann Arbor Water Department. The official says their testing has shown no chromium above detectable levels.  The department questions the Environmental Working Group’s methodology in taking and testing their water sample.

Mark Brush was the station's Digital Media Director. He succumbed to a year-long battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in March 2018. He was 49 years old.
Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.