The problem wasn't the familiar one of a high bacteria level, caused by leaky septic systems or farm runoff. It was something more alarming: a chemical spill from a
The chemical, hexavalent chromium, was accidentally discharged into a waterway just 100 yards from
The exact risk posed by this chemical is subject to debate, but no one disputes that it's a potent toxin. Inhaled, it can cause lung cancer. On skin, it can produce irritation and ulcers. A 2008 report by the federal government's National Toxicology Program said that when ingested by lab animals in drinking water, it causes oral and small intestine cancers.
"Even a single gallon of hexavalent chromium could contaminate billions of gallons of drinking water,"
The metal has been found in
These are among the many responsibilities of this federal agency, a prime target of President
Trump's rejection of President
But assuring clean air and water is an old and fundamental task of federal regulators, as set out in environmental laws passed under the Republican administration of
The question about this type of chromium is what concentration in drinking water is unsafe. Making that determination is up to the
It's easy to forget that some of what the federal government does in the way of regulation is valuable and popular. A toxic spill 100 yards from your drinking water supply is a bracing reminder.
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