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Chromium Contamination – What If It’s In Your Drinking Water?

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Photograph of a sample of anhydrous chromium(I...

Chromium (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chromium occurs naturally as a compound with many other elements and can sometimes appear in drinking water through the process of leeching. What is chromium and how does it affect your health?

Just What Is Chromium?

There are several forms of the element Chromium, which occurs naturally but rarely by itself (in fact, the only known source of pure chromium is an unusual site in Russia.) Chromium is mined most usually in the form of chromite, which is iron chromium oxide; a compound of chromium and iron. Chromium metal and ferrochromium alloy are produced from chromite. Chromium is most commonly used to reduce corrosion, and the first instance of this use was over 2000 years ago in China, during the Qin Dynasty when it was used to coat the weapons of the famous terracotta soldiers.

Chromium gets its name from the Greek word ‘chroma’ meaning colour. And so it makes sense that its first use in the west was in pigments when it was discovered in the 18th century. Today it is still used as a compound to produce pigments, becoming known for “School bus yellow” until an alternative was used due to environmental concerns. It’s the element that gives sapphires and rubies their color, and has been used to produce artificial rubies which are used in lasers. When alloyed with iron and nickel, chromium is used in jet engines and gas turbines because it can handle very high temperatures.

What Does Chromium Do To Our Bodies?

Chromium is a transition metal, and as such has several forms based on its electronic configuration. Chromium (III) is considered to be an essential element and is thought to enhance the action of insulin, which allows the body to process sugar. Some argue that there is no conclusive evidence of this, but several studies have shown that as a trace element it is beneficial to humans.

But in other forms, like Chromium (VI), it is highly toxic. Chromium (VI) or hexavalent chromium is used in the production of textile dyes, stainless steel and anti-corrosion coatings. It is also used in electroplating and welding on stainless steel. When inhaled it is recognised as a carcinogen. Because of its use in factories and other industrial sites, Chromium in its toxic form has been known to find its way into drinking water supplies, notably in Hinkley California.

Ingested, Chromium (VI) can cause irritation of the skin, the respiratory tract and the gastrointestinal tract, and to enlarge the liver through its oxidation properties. This means it can rupture red blood cells and cause renal and liver failure in high enough doses. Furthermore, Chromium salts, which are used in the manufacture of leather goods, paints, cement, mortar, anti-corrosives and many other things, can cause allergic reactions in some people.

How Can We Avoid Chromium Complications?

The occurrence of Chromium (VI) in drinking water is low, and usually only occurs within proximity to industrial sites. The Canadian Drinking Water guidelines stipulate 0.05mg/L or less of Chromium in drinking water. All Canadian Water Treatment facilities meet or exceed these parameters. However, if you are worried about the existence of chromium in your drinking water, the addition of a home reverse osmosis water filtration system would ensure that your water is safe to drink. For more information on reverse osmosis water filtration systems please contact us now, or visit our online store.

If you’re at all concerned about the quality of your water, or you simply want to be certain, you should choose an Aquasafe Home Reverse Osmosis System. An Aquasafe Home Reverse Osmosis system will remove all contaminants from water, including THM’s and HAA’s, producing guaranteed safe water you can count on every time. And it’s only a few cents per liter! Shop online and save today.

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