Dangerous Chemical Found in US Tap Water

November 19, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. toxic / ˈtɒk sɪk / (adj.) – harmful to people, animals, or the environment
Example: Many factories were asked to close down because of their toxic waste.

2. contaminate / kənˈtæm əˌneɪt / (v.) – to make something unsafe or poisonous
Example: The factory’s waste contaminated the river.

3. naturally occurring / ˈnætʃ ər ə li əˈkɜ rɪŋ / (adj.) – existing in nature
Example: The substance is naturally occurring in volcanic soil.          

4. susceptible / səˈsɛp tə bəl / (adj.) – easily affected by something
Example: Children are susceptible to colds.

5. regulation / ˌrɛg yəˈleɪ ʃən / (n.) – policies or rules regarding something
Example:  The local government set regulations on using biofuel.


Read the text below.
Traces of toxic chromium-6 were found in the majority of tap water samples from all 50 American states.

According to a study by research organization Environmental Working Group (EWG), the tap water of 218 million Americans across the United States is contaminated by chromium-6, a naturally occurring chemical that can also be produced when creating stainless steel or textile.

The group collected 60,000 water samples from all over the country and found that 90% contained high levels of the chemical. The highest concentrations were found in samples from US cities Houston, Phoenix, and St. Louis County. If not fully eliminated, EWG says that this could result to 12,000 new cases of cancer.

Several studies conducted by the government and independent scientists have confirmed that exposure to chromium-6 can result to lung or liver cancer, pneumonia, reproductive problems, and skin diseases. Infants and children, as well as people who have liver problems, are the most susceptible to the chemical’s harmful effects.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which makes health and environmental regulations in the United States, reported that chromium-6 comes from factory leakages and poor disposal methods of industrial waste.

Despite the findings, the EPA has yet to set nationwide guidelines on safe levels of chromium-6 in drinking water. Currently, only California has a strict safety recommendation for the chemical. However, EWG claimed that the standard set in California can still cause cancer among people who drink the water for an extended period of time.

In the meantime, EWG has advised residents to use specialized water filters that can eliminate the harmful chemical from the water they consume.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         How can the findings of this research affect the lives of Americans?
·         What alternative water sources can people turn to?

Discussion B

·         In your opinion, who should be responsible for keeping tap water safe? Discuss.
·         On a larger scale, what should people do to keep tap water clean?

November 19, 2016