Group says cancer-causing toxin found in NE Ohio drinking water systems

Group says cancer-causing toxin found in NE Ohio drinking water systems

CUYAHOGA COUNTY, OH (WOIO) - An environmental group says a cancer-causing toxin has been found in almost all of northeast Ohio's drinking water systems.

A new study says the carcinogen is in the tap water of 200 million Americans. According to the report by the Environmental Working Group, major cities with the highest contaminant levels are Phoenix, St. Louis, Houston, and Los Angeles.

The toxin is called Chromium 6. Almost all of northeast Ohio's water systems tested positive for it.

Lake Erie is one of our biggest resources for water. The lake provides drinking water to 1.5 million people in northeast Ohio.

You can often find Frank Thompson fishing off the 55th Street Pier in Cleveland. He says his dad introduced him to fishing at age 12 and he fell in love with it immediately. He's careful which fish he eats, and it's important the water he drinks -- which also comes from the lake -- is also safe.

Cleveland came in 15th on a list of the largest U.S. water systems contaminated with Chromium 6 with .120 parts per billion, according to a report by EWG. It sounds like a small number, but the nonprofit group says those levels aren't safe.

You may have heard of Chromium 6 before. It was mentioned in a movie starring Julia Roberts about environmentalist Erin Brokovich's fight against polluted water in California. Chromium 6 is used in steel production, chrome plating, and in electrical power plants' cooling towers. Scientists say even extremely low levels of it cause cancer in people. California is now the only state with a standard for how much Chromium 6 can be in drinking water.

Cleveland Water released the following statement regarding Chromium 6:

Cleveland Water meets and exceeds all State and Federal drinking water standards as established by the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA), including regulations related to Chromium. Chromium is a naturally occurring element that can also be caused by man-made sources, and is commonly found in our environment, including our waterways.

You can read the full statement here.

The Cleveland Water Department has invested more than $1.6 billion over the last 30 years to modernize treatment plants and distribution systems. The water from Lake Erie that is processed to drink comes from approximately three miles offshore. It goes through several stages to remove debris and chemicals, before it is disinfected and pumped into a finished water reservoir. There are nearly 5,200 miles of underground water mains that deliver water to homes and businesses throughout the 640-square mile service area.

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