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Hexavalent Chromium (Chromium-6) Testing in Ontario: Where Can I Get It – And Why It’s Important 

Hexavalent Chromium-6 is a metallic element created from the erosion of chromium deposits or industrial processes. These industrial processes often involve “hot work” like welding stainless steel or using pigments in dyes and plastics. 

While other types of chromium are safe for human consumption, chromium-6 is a toxic carcinogen that causes cancer. Prolonged exposure to this toxic substance, whether through inhalation, ingestion, or skin contact, can lead to severe health issues including lung cancer, skin ulcers, and respiratory problems. It is crucial to eliminate chromium-6 in drinking water and the environment to protect public health.

Why You Should Test for Hexavalent Chromium in Your Home

Even though chromium-6 endangers humans who come into contact with it, the federal government does not require its removal from drinking water. California regulates chromium-6 specifically, but the advocacy group Clean Water Action argues these regulations do not go far enough. While water treatment facilities remove some chromium-6, unhealthy levels of this chemical still contaminate Ontario water today.

 Professional Testing Services 

Do you want to know if chromium-6 is in your Ontario drinking water? Testing your home’s tap water is the first step in removing chromium-6 from your life permanently. Deciding how to test your water may be a difficult decision for those unaware of their options.  The main options for water tests are professional tests and DIY water test kits, and both are available through Culligan.

 Free Water Tests

Culligan offers free professional water tests for your home. We conduct water tests in your home, which allows you to understand what contaminants are specifically in your tap water. Scheduling a water test means that we can help decide what solutions will work to filter out chromium-6 and any other contaminants found in your water.

 In-Home Water Tests

If you prefer to conduct a water test by yourself, Culligan also offers a DIY water kit. This kit lets you test your water on your own and gives you the same expert answers that our in-home tests produce. After testing Culligan is able to read your results and help you find solutions to your water problems!

Why Monitoring Hexavalent Chromium is Essential in Ontario

Recently, California’s State Water Resources Control Board has released a study about the levels of hexavalent chromium-6 present in the state’s drinking water. The study has tested the water quality from 2012 through February 2022. Amounts of contaminants in water are calculated with micrograms per liter (μg/L), which measure the amount of a substance dissolved in a liter of water.

Los Angeles county was found to have a chromium-6 concentration of greater than or equal to 1 μg/L, but less than or equal to 5 μg/L. Additionally, Cal Matters has concluded that Los Angeles county has a concentration of 85.6 parts per billion (ppb).  These concentrations of chromium-6 are greater than the public health goal determined by the California Department of Public Health of 0.2 parts per billion. Even with regulations, it is estimated that the risk of cancer is 500 times greater than if the regulations aligned with what Cal Matters believes it should be.

Advocacy groups have been trying to get officials to create stricter regulations regarding the filtration of chromium-6 for many years. In 2014, the state released regulations against hexavalent chromium-6, but only 3 years later the California Manufacturers and Technology Association (CMTA) sued the Superior Court of Sacramento. This 2017 lawsuit caused the fledgling regulations to be overturned due to CMTA’s claim that these regulations were bad for the economy. The regulations would not be reinstated until 2022, but it is clear that the state can be swayed to allow harmful water quality, as long as the financial burden is too high.

Potential Sources in Your Home

In Ontario, sources of chromium-6 contamination include soil and groundwater impacted by past industrial activities, natural geology of the state, and land use. Residual chromium-6 in soil often leaches into groundwater systems, and has been found in well water that is not near any industrial sites, which poses environmental and health risks. Common household products, such as treated wood and cement, also contribute to chromium-6 contamination, releasing it over time and affecting surrounding soil and water sources. Addressing these contamination pathways is crucial for maintaining safe water quality and protecting public health.

What to Do If Hexavalent Chromium is Found

If you discover your water is exposing you and your household to hexavalent chromium, there is no need for immediate panic, but you must stop consuming contaminated water immediately. Your symptoms associated with exposure to chromium-6 will halt and not worsen, as long as you stop consuming the contaminant. However,  you will have experienced chronic exposure, which is associated with the following symptoms, and requires management practices as there is no cure for chronic exposure.

Symptoms of Chronic Exposure

  • Dermatitis: Skin irritation that will not progress after exposure ends.
  • Liver Injury: Damage to liver function that will not worsen once exposure is removed.
  • Renal Injury: Kidney damage that halts progression post-exposure.
  • Increased Risk of Lung Cancer: Particularly if exposure has been high or prolonged, warranting patient education on smoking cessation and avoiding other pulmonary carcinogens.

Management Recommendations

  • Urinary and Fecal Clearance: Natural elimination processes of chromium from the body.
  • Potential Need for Forced Diuresis: In some cases, to expedite urinary excretion.
  • Patient Education: Inform about risk factors, preventive health, and minimizing exposure to other carcinogens.
  • Routine Health Monitoring: Consider regular check-ups and imaging in cases of significant exposure.

Long-term Solutions

Chromium-6 contamination is very serious and can be detrimental to the health of you and your loved ones. But, there are ways to protect your household from this cancerous substance, and to ensure your water is cleaner than the state’s very loose regulations. A reverse osmosis filtration system employs a semipermeable membrane to filter out impurities, like hexavalent chromium, and makes your water safer to consume. Culligan offers whole house reverse osmosis filtration, which will make all of the water in your house cleaner, from your hose to your shower.

Importance of Regular Water Testing & Preventative Maintenance

Even if your home’s water supply is free of chromium-6 at the current moment, there is no guarantee it will not enter groundwater near you, or that the state will not repeal regulations concerning the contaminant. Due to these factors, regularly testing your water is important to protect your health – especially if you have well water, which is not regulated by a municipal source.

Regular maintenance of your tap water and its filters, including changing your water filtration systems and using Culligan water filters with your RO or whole house filtration system, can ensure your tap water is protected. Luckily, if you purchase a Culligan RO system, you can enjoy worry-free maintenance provided by your local Culligan dealer without having to lift a finger

Culligan offers free water tests for your house, so you can always rely on us to discover new contaminants in your water. Not on the grid? Culligan can also test your well water for hexavalent chromium, no matter the type of water that supplies your home!