LOS ANGELES — Fears of chromium 6 contamination of drinking water has sparked consumer interest in bottled water and home filtration systems, but health officials assure tap water is still safe to drink.
Water filtration companies have reported an increase in inquiries by consumers wanting to know if their treatment systems will remove chromium 6.
“There is definitely more awareness out there,” said Dean Thompson, general manager of Culligan Water Conditioning in Sun Valley.
The company receives about five calls a day, Thompson said.
Fear of the chemical also has helped hike sales for water delivery companies.
Yosemite Water Co. has added another distribution route in the San Fernando Valley.
The company now has 35 routes in a region that has gone through decades of industrial production and led to well water contamination.
Chromium 6 is a toxic byproduct of chromium, a very hard, metallic chemical element often used in metal plating.
The chemical has been labeled a carcinogen when inhaled. But its effects when consumed in tap water have not yet been agreed upon by scientists.
There have been no reports of illness or death since acceptable levels of the chemical were found in the region’s tap water.
The state Department of Health Services insists tap water is safe, but the agency is planning to impose standards for acceptable levels of chromium 6.
Consumers turning to bottled water for safety aren’t much better off, according to Gina Solomon, a drinking water specialist with the Natural Resources Defense Council in San Francisco.
Solomon said tap water standards are often higher than bottled water standards, but those standards will change Jan. 1, when the bottled water industry will be required to meet tap water standards.