What is Chromium-6?

Chromium-6 is a tasteless, odorless metallic element. And it is often referred to as hexavalent chromium.

Where is Chromium-6 Found?

Found in rocks, plants, soil, volcanic dust, ash and animals, chromium-6 is a natural part of the environment. Chromium spreads in our environment as a result of erosion.
We define erosion as the gradual destruction of something over time. Wind, water and other natural elements work together during this process.
In addition to natural elements releasing chromium-6 into the environment, it is also released unnaturally. Poor storage, leakage or inefficient practices of industrial waste all contribute the spreading of chromium-6.
Even more industrial uses of chromium-6 include:
  • Manufacturing steel.
  • Chrome plating.
  • Manufacturing pigments and dyes.
  • Preserving wood and leather.
  • Lowering the temperature of water in electrical power plants.

What is the Difference Between Chromium-6 and Chromium-3?

Chromium-3 is more commonly found in the environment than chromium-6. But both do naturally occur.
We consider Chromium-3 a healthy part of the human diet. So it is found in a variety of vegetables, meats, fruits, yeast and grains.
While chromium-3 benefits the human digestive system, chromium-6 does not. In contrast, exposure to chromium-6 is linked to various illnesses and diseases. Most noteworthy, lung cancer, liver damage, reproductive issues and developmental harm.
Certain individuals are at a higher risk when exposed. Including infants, children, people who use antacids and people with limited liver function.

Chromium Drinking Water Standard

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for maintaining standards set by The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). As a result, the EPA sets the limits of contaminants in drinking water. And the maximum amount of any contaminant in water is known as a Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG).
The EPA set a drinking water standard of 0.1 milligrams per liter (mg/l), or 100 parts per billion, for total chromium. Which includes forms of chromium.
Water systems are required to test for chromium. And the EPA bases this MCLG on potential effects of exposure.
Certainly, if you worry about the total chromium in your water, give your local Culligan water Expert a call today.

Chromium Toxicity

Overexposure to chromium results in a health condition called chromium toxicity. Similar names for this condition are chromium poisoning, heavy metal poisoning and poisoning due to chromium.
Environmental conditions are major risk factors for chromium poisoning. So jobs like industrial welders and workers are particularly high risk. Continuous exposure through skin contact or inhalation causes poisoning.
Signs and symptoms of orally ingested chromium-6:
  • Liver damage
  • Intravascular hemolysis
  • Circulatory collapse
  • Fever
  • Vertigo
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Severe gastrointestinal ulcers or irritation
Signs and symptoms of chronic inhalation or skin contact of chromium-6:
  • Skin sensitization
  • Eczematous dermatitis
  • Rhinitis and sinusitis
  • Nasal ulcers
  • Bronchitis
  • Lesions ''chrome holes'' in fingers, knuckles and forearms
  • Keratitis
  • Gingivitis and periodontitis
As a result of chromium-6 entering the body, the heavy metal is absorbed by the bloodstream. It then accumulates in the rest of the body's tissues. Unlike chromium-3, chromium-6 absorbs rapidly in the body. Therefore making it more dangerous.
Medical tests can be performed to diagnose chromium toxicity. Including a physical exam and review of medical history.
Chromium toxicity also increases acidity in blood. Which can cause inadequate blood flow to tissues. This may result in shock or a variety of kidney diseases.
'Chrome holes' also frequently occur. These are persistent ulcers due to heavy metal poisoning. And they're caused by toxic chromium-6 compounds.
Eliminating exposure to chromium is the best way to avoid toxicity. Workers in impacted areas should practice proper hygiene, wear protective clothing and avoid eating or drinking around the work site. Especially if chromium is present.

Chromium-6 Impacts Tw0 out of Every Three Americans

Between the years 2010 and 2015, the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) Tap Water Database found chromium-6 in 50 states and 9,855 utilities. Which impacted the drinking water of 250 million people.
A survey conducted by the EPA showed chromium-6 contaminated more than three-fourths of water systems sampled. And those water sources supply more than two-thirds of Americans.
Cities with the highest levels of chromium-6 in water include Phoenix, St. Louis and Houston.

How is Chromium-6 Removed from Drinking Water?

Reverse Osmosis reduces traces of chromium-6 found in drinking water.
So, what is reverse osmosis? And how does it work?
While thinking about reverse osmosis, it's easiest to break the process apart into four different steps.
In general, the steps in this process include pre-filtration, reverse osmosis, drainage and storage.
So let's get into the details.
First, pressurized water enters a particle filter. And this removes impurities like sediment, sand and salt.
Next, water passes through an activated carbon filter. Which traps and removes contaminants or minerals. Such as chlorine, mercury, copper and pesticides.
Following pre-filtration is the reverse osmosis stage. Here, pressurized water forces itself through the semipermeable membrane. As a result, trapping the smallest impurities. So only water passes through.
To show the membrane's power, think about the diameter of one human hair. Which is about 100 microns wide. In contrast, Culligan RO Systems have membranes with spaces approximately one micron wide.
Finally, a discharge stage washes away the removed contaminants. While a storage tank collects the treated water.
And before the faucet releases the freshly treated water, it passes through one more activated-carbon filter. Improving the taste and quality before household use.

What else does Reverse Osmosis Remove?

Reverse osmosis removes many different contaminants and metals from water.


No amount of lead exposure is safe. Especially for children. And the contaminant is hard to detect. Individuals cannot clearly see, smell or taste lead. So the only way to know whether or not your water is contaminated with lead is to have it tested by a professional.


Although chlorine isn't an immediate health-related concern, it does impact the taste and odor of water. If the aesthetics of your water are bothering you, RO is a process that will take care of it.


Mercury found in drinking water comes from natural degassing of earth's crust. And from human activities, like burning fossil fuels. Brain damage, kidney damage or even damage to a developing fetus are all caused by overexposure to mercury in the body.


High levels of sediment make water cloudy or hazy. And the higher level of sediment in drinking water, the greater chance consumers develop gastrointestinal diseases.


Chloramines are a derivative of ammonia. And contribute to an altered taste or smell in your drinking water.

Chief Benefits of Reverse Osmosis (RO) Systems

Healthier, safer water.

A Culligan RO Filtration System filters up to 99 percent of most contaminants. And reduce them in your water. With RO, know your family is drinking fresh and clean water.

Better-tasting water.

Reverse osmosis systems reduce dangerous contaminants. As well as harmless nuisances that change the look, taste or smell of your water. RO water is crisp, refreshing, great-tasting water. And it comes from your kitchen sink.

Cost-effective water filtration.

Pitcher filters are often costly. And they don't always remove all of the contaminants. Also, some require replacing the filter every two months in order to be effective. But with an RO system, you get filtered water. For only pennies a glass.


Chromium-6 is an element found naturally in the environment. But the industrial spread of the element causes more widespread contamination. Especially the contamination of our drinking water.
While the EPA regulates levels of total chromium in drinking water, you may want to request a professional water test. At Culligan, our water experts come directly to your home. And professionally test your water for peace of mind. Ensuring you drink the healthiest, best-tasting water possible.