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A hex on the water: chromium a natural in the desert

June 9, 2008 |  4:44 pm


Hexavalent  chromium, a potent carcinogen best known as a byproduct of industrial waste and rocket booster for Erin Brockovich's legal career (and that of Julia Roberts, who played her in the movie), occurs naturally in the Mojave Desert as well, according to a study released Monday by federal geologists.

That might not be such a problem, except the green schist rocks where it shows up are eroding into underground water aquifers, according to lead author John Izbicki.

Two families have already been warned to stop drinking from their private wells because of alarmingly high levels of the toxin. Worse news is that the aquifers might be needed in the future to quench the thirst in fast-growing Victorville and other high desert communities.

-- Janet Wilson

Photo: Erin Brockovich, courtesy of Lifetime Entertainment Services.