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Alief gets more testing on levels of chromium-6 in water

ALIEF, Texas – For 10 months, Channel 2 Investigates has been telling you about elevated levels of a dangerous contaminant in Houston's drinking water.

READ AND WATCH OUR REPORT ON CHROMIUM-6

Neighbors protested and complained to city leaders.

"It's a level that can make people get cancer and all other kinds of illnesses," said Pamela Boneta at a recent Capital Improvement meeting.

"We want each one of those wells tested to find the source," said Barbara Quattro, President of the Alief Community Super Neighborhood.

Now the city has agreed to re-test the water in Alief-- a hot spot for the cancer-causing chemical Chromium-6.

"This is an absolute victory for the people," said Jackie Young, Executive Director for the Texas Health and Environment Alliance, Inc.

Young is celebrating a win for the people of Alief.

Young has been spearheading efforts to get action from city council members and public works.

"Our community members successfully urged our city to test for a contaminant that they're not required to by federal standards," said Young.

HOW TO KEEP YOUR DRINKING WATER FREE OF CHROMIUM 6

By law the last time the city was required to test for chromium-6 was in 2014.

In zip code 77099--- test results showed chromium 6 levels as high as 6.7 parts per billion.

Public health officials say cancer rates start to rise at 0.02 ppb.

Earlier this year, Channel 2 Investigates conducted our own tests -- again the results showed elevated levels of chromium-6.

After our reports and after a meeting with THEA, the city agreed to test the water in Alief four more times over the next year.

"We wanted to have a trend and something more updated," said Steve Le, Councilmember for District F.

Le is also a doctor and a dad.

"As a scientist and a physician I like to see trends, I like to see what's happening to make sure we're getting an accurate reading," said Le.

Here's our first look at the city's new numbers.

The city tested all of Alief, including zip codes 77099 and 77072.

Chromium-6 Results for 77099 (parts per billion in 2014 and 2017)

  • 10000 block S. Kirkwood:  6.7, 5.8
  • 9000 block Dairy View Ln.: 5.4, 5.0
  • 11600 block Herald Square: 3.5, 3.3
  • 10,000 block Stancliff: 2.5, 2.8

Chromium-6 Results for 77072 (parts per billion in 2014 and 2017)

  • 12400 block Bellaire Blvd: 1.9, 0.22
  • 10500 block Beechnut: - 2.0, 2.2

Source: City of Houston Public Works Department

"Looking at the results from the city of Houston's first quarterly testing the levels of chromium 6 are relatively low but Chromium 6 is present and we know this is a harmful substance and if it were my family or my home I would definitely be taking steps to protect us," said Young.

INTERACTIVE MAP TO CHECK YOUR WATER

So what's next?

The city will test the water in Alief three more times.

And, Le will be working with the EPA to make sure Chromium-6 isn't creating a bigger problem in his district.

"They're going to go back and look at the type of cancer that exists in district F... they're going to pick out the top 10 cancer that they find within the zip code of district F... see if there's any connection and if there is, then they'll do more in-depth study to see if there's actual true correlation," said Le.

The EPA has not given Le a timetable yet for conducting this study.

The EPA doesn't not have a standard for chromium-6, just total chromium which is 100 parts per billion.

We asked for an interview with the public works department multiple times. Instead, we received this statement which reads in part,

"The City's drinking water meets or exceeds ALL Federal and State standards and is SAFE."

If you are interested in getting your water tested at your home you can contact Envirodyne Laboratories Inc. There is a fee. (281) 568-7880.

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