Banning Water Utility Warns About Chromium6
7/24/15 – Recently customers of the Banning Water Utility were notified about the presence of elevated levels of chromium6, a dangerous carcinogen, in the City’s water supply (view notice). Should we be alarmed ? And what are our options?
NEW CALIFORNIA REGULATIONS
The significance of chromium6 first received widespread attention during the 1990’s, when environmental activist Erin Brockovich filed a lawsuit against Pacific Gas and Electric for polluting the environment with chromium6.
At the present time, Federal rules allow maximum contaminant levels (MCL) of 100 parts per billion (ppb) in drinking water. Effective April 15, 2014, the State of California has tightened this standard to just 10 ppb, a 90% reduction. Many believe the new rule is over the top. The City Banning reports up to 23 ppb in the City’s drinking water – way below Federal Standards, but clearly above the new California level.
It is important to note that in the remaining 49 States, Banning’s drinking water would be considered safe by a wide margin. Therefore, the latest City notice needs to be viewed in perspective. The problem can be corrected by either shutting down some wells, or by installing filtration equipment, which, however, could cost tens of millions of dollars, according to City estimates. Look for water rates to skyrocket once this happens.
So what can the average consumer do to protect themselves from chromium6 ? In the following segment we will examine some popular and also some less known options.
OPTION # 1 : BOTTLED WATER
We have all bought it and dragged it home by the case : bottled water appears like an easy solution. But is it the answer ? Not really. There are no regulations that require bottled water manufacturers to disclose contaminant levels of chromium6 on their product label.
And lets not forget all the problems plastic bottles bring with them : not only is their use hard on the environment, but there is also a concern that chemicals from the plastic may leech into the water, especially in very hot or very cold temperatures.
For all these reasons, bottled water is clearly not a good option.
OPTION # 2: INLINE WATER FILTER
We all have seen them on refrigerators and other household appliances : activated-charcoal-type inline water filters.
While these filters work fine filtering visible contaminants and chlorine, they are completely ineffective in regards to chromium6, making them not an option.
OPTION # 3 : REVERSE OSMOSIS
Reverse osmosis systems are advertised as providing a 98% filtration of chromium6. The systems run about $140 and up, not bad. You can find them for sale on Ebay (view).
But there are disadvantages : the system is complicated. It usually consists of 5 filters plumbed in line, check valves, shut off valves, plumbing, pressure gauge, a tank – lots of things to leak or fail.
More importantly, the system needs water line pressure, so in an emergency it might not work. For this situation some vendors offer an electric booster pump, but that needs electricity, which may not be available either.
All in all, reverse osmosis works, but it comes with restrictions and possible headaches.
OPTION # 3 : BIG BERKEY GRAVITY FED WATER FILTER
Originally developed by British Berkefeld over 150 years ago for the Queen of England, gravity water filtration systems impress through their simplicity and effectiveness. The UN and the Red Cross use these type of filtration systems whenever they provide aid to disaster stricken areas.
The system works without pressure and without electricity. The filtration is accomplished by having water percolate through 2 or 4 ceramic elements. A “Big Berkey” makes about 1 gallon of water per hour with 4 elements, and half that per hour with 2 elements. It sells in the $250-350 range, depending if you get it with 2 or 4 filter elements. It can be purchased on the manufacturer’s website and on Ebay and Amazon as well.
Elements usually can provide around 650 gallons each before they need to be replaced. So with 4 elements replacement is not needed until 2,600 gallons of water have been filtered. At 1 gallon per day this makes for over 7 years of use.
The County of Los Angeles tested this filter in 2012 (view). It achieved a chromium6 reduction of 99.8 % ! This is as good as it gets. There is only one problem : The Berkey line of water filters, which are made in England, cannot be sold in California nor in Iowa.
OPTION # 4 : PROPUR GRAVITY FED WATER FILTER
Another water filter that works on the principle of gravity is the ProPur. It is US made and comes in various sizes and number of filter elements. The ProPur “Big” is comparable in size to the Big Berkey and sells in the $300-350 range on Ebay and Amazon , and on the ProPur website.
Again, you can chose the number of elements here as well. The number strictly determines the speed of filtration, not the quality of the filtered water. Besides this, 4 elements filter twice as much water during their useful life than 2.
Independent tests (view) show that this filter achieves a 99.4 % reduction in chromium6. It is also effective against arsenic and fluoride and many other contaminants. The good news is that this system can be sold in California.
OPTION # 5 : JMCCSCI.COM GRAVITY FED WATER FILTER
Former Cornell University Professor James McCanney has introduced his own line of US made gravity fed water filters. They also can be sold in all 50 States. In an email professor McCanney confirmed that his filter achieves a 99.4 % reduction in Chromium6, based on independent testing.
This filter also removes many other contaminants which are listed here . All JMCCSCI units are sold with 4 elements, resulting in a speedy filtration rate of about 1 gal/hr. The buyer can chose between an option with built-in arsenic and fluoride filtration (called “short wave offer # 2”) and without this feature (“short wave offer #1″). This filter is only sold on the professor’s own webpage.
At about $250 the JMCCSCI filter costs about $100 less than a comparable ProPur, while providing identical performance regarding chromium6. For this reason the JMCCSCI units appear to provide the best value for your dollar.
While there is no reason to panic about the presence of chromium6 in Banning’s drinking water, it appears to be time for everyone to evaluate their options.
If you are drinking bottled water you may want to look into water filtration. Not only will it pay for itself in a short time, it helps protect the environment and may also protect you from a wide variety of contaminants.
DISCLAIMER: The Banning Informer has no financial interest in any of the above mentioned products. We do not endorse any manufacturers nor any products. We have not verified test results nor any of the manufacturers’ claims, nor have we conducted any tests of our own. The above information is provided strictly as a public service, so you can do your own research in determining which product – if any – may be suitable for you.
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