Frequent Questions

03. What are chromium's health effects?

Chromium-3 is a nutritionally essential element in humans and is often added to vitamins as a dietary supplement. Chromium-3 has relatively low toxicity and would be a concern in drinking water only at very high levels of contamination; Chromium-6 is more toxic and poses potential health risks. People who use water containing total chromium in excess of the maximum contaminant level (MCL) over many years could experience allergic dermatitis.

In a September 2010 draft human health assessment for chromium-6, EPA proposed to classify chromium-6 as likely to be carcinogenic to humans when ingested. The Agency continues to work towards completing the human health assessment and making a final determination about the carcinogenicity of chromium-6. When the assessment is completed, EPA will determine whether the drinking water standard for total chromium needs to be revised.

More information regarding EPA's current schedule for the chromium-6 assessment is available at http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/iristrac/index.cfm?fuseaction=viewChemical.showChemical&sw_id=1114.

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