Chromium is a natural element that is found in in the Earth’s crust. In humans and animals, trace amounts are essential for glucose, fat and protein metabolism by magnifying the action of insulin. Industries that release chromium to the environment include metal processing, tannery facilities, chromate production, stainless steel welding, and specialty pigment production. Chromium can be found in many consumer products, including wood treated with copper dichromate, leather tanned with chromic sulfate, and stainless steel cookware. It is estimated that 33 tons of total Chromium are released annually into the environment.
Potential for human exposure
The primary health impacts from chromium are damage to the gastrointestinal, respiratory, and immunological systems, as well as reproductive and developmental problems. Chromium is a known human carcinogen, and depending on the exposure route, can increase the rate of various types of cancers. Research showed an increase in stomach tumors in humans and animals exposed to chromium in drinking water. Accidental ingestion of extremely high doses of chromium by humans caused severe respiratory, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, renal, and neurological effects ultimately leading to death or in patients who survived because of medical treatment.
Protecting against chromium
Because chromium occurs in the soil, air and in well and municipal water supplies across the United States, limiting exposure is the best defense.
Avoiding contaminated water is possible with the Health Metric heavy metals test. The test is easy to use and will alert you to heavy metal contamination in your water supply. If heavy metals are detected you have the option of filtering your water with a reverse osmosis filtration system or buying bottled water. Be sure to test your water filter to make sure it is functioning properly. You can also use the Health metric heavy metals test on bottled water to make sure it has been properly filtered.