Hexavalent chromium. The term sounds high-tech and slightly ominous to those unfamiliar with it -- and apparently few people are familiar with it. Hexavelent chromium is currently piquing online readers' curiosity.
The highly publicized specter of potentially toxic water can do that.
So here are some basics.... Hexavelent chromium is, quite obviously, a form of the element chromium. The heavy metal is more commonly called chromium 6 and it's used in the production of stainless steel, pigments and protective coatings.
Here's related chromium-6 information from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's occupational-health overview. It states: "[The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health] considers all Cr(VI) [hexavalent chromium] compounds to be potential occupational carcinogens. An increased risk of lung cancer has been demonstrated in workers exposed to Cr(VI) compounds. Other adverse health effects associated with Cr(VI) exposure include dermal irritation, skin ulceration, allergic contact dermatitis, occupational asthma, nasal irritation and ulceration, perforated nasal septa, rhinitis, nosebleed, respiratory irritation, nasal cancer, sinus cancer, eye irritation and damage, perforated eardrums, kidney damage, liver damage, pulmonary congestion and edema, epigastric pain, and erosion and discoloration of the teeth."
Here's a more comprehensible chromium-6 fact sheet from California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, complete with an explanation of the difference between chromium 6 and chromium 3. Even if you didn't ace high school chemistry, give it a shot.