CHICAGO (WBBM) — The City of Chicago will begin testing for hexavalent chromium, after a study found high levels of the cancer-causing metal in tap water in the city and suburbs.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Bob Conway reports, city officials announced the additional testing shortly after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency urged the nation’s public water systems to act.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bob Conway reports

Critics insist federal rules need to be strengthened to reflect studies that link the metal to stomach cancer.

The most recent study found hexavalent chromium, also known as chromium-6, in tap water in 31 cities.

The amount in Lake Michigan water was nine times higher than a safety limit adopted by the State of California this month.

The Environmental Working Group said it found hexavalent chromium at a concentration of 0.18 parts per billion in the Lake Michigan water that goes to Chicago and the suburbs.

Previously, city Department of Water Management Commissioner Tom Powers said the water does meet existing standards, and is safe.

“It meets or exceeds all the standards of testing and quality established by both the U.S. and the Illinois EPA agencies,” Powers said last month. “So, we are mandated to test for total chromium, and our total chromium amounts that we are seeing in the water is far below those standards.”

But as his staff reviews the findings, Powers has admitted there is currently no test required for the metal.

City Water Department officials say results of the testing will be posted online.

Meanwhile, the EPA has promised a new scientific review of chromium-6 by this summer.

Researchers believe the metal may enter the Lake Michigan water source from discharge at nearby steel mills in Indiana.

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