Leyna Olvera says she’s been hearing a lot about Chromium 6 lately. The heavy metal is a known carcinogen. And while the science on how much is safe to drink is up for debate she worries about the heavy metal found in the water across the valley including where she lives, Desert Hot Springs.
"I’m scared, I’m scared and so far we’ve been drinking arrowhead water … my concerns are my children’s health, my health," says Olvera.
A map put together by the Environmental Working Group shows the chemical made famous by Erin Brockovich is found in the water of over two million Americans. A two year study shows the chemical causes cancer in rats.
That’s why Olvera wonders if it’s what caused her son’s cancer and is making her sick, "My concern is did he get it from the water out here or I have some health issues going on."
She has a simple question for Mission Springs Water District, "What they’re doing about the Chromium 6?"
In most cases the metal is the byproduct of industrial waste but here in the valley it’s naturally occurring and comes from rocks. Mission Springs Water District says out of their 14 wells, two have levels that exceed the state’s standards of 10 parts per billion, but they’re not in use.
"Due to the excellent work that our community has done with conservation we’ve been able to take those wells completely off line," says John Soulliere the public information and conservation officer for Mission Springs Water District.
But what about before they were taken off-line, was there enough Chromium 6 in the water to make people sick?
"Chromium 6 effects are generally something that are experienced possibly in one in a million people over a 70 to 80 years span of consuming Chromium that exceeds the maximum contaminant level so really short term issues such as a child sick or somebody from drinking the water with Chromium 6 at the levels we’re looking at in this valley … very, very unlikely," says Soulliere.
At 10 parts per billion California standards for Chromium 6 are a lot more stringent than the 100 parts per billion in federal standards and as for bottled water they are regulated by federal standards but set their own cap at 50 parts per billion.
If if you’re worried about any level of Chromium 6 in your water you can get a reverse osmosis filter that’s certified to remove the heavy metal in water.