Regulating pollutants in the Asopos River

28 04 2010

ATHENS NEWS 26/04/2010, page: 18 Issue No. 13387

ENVIRONMENT Minister Tina Birbili on April 19 gave her second Asopos River press conference, announcing stricter limits on pollutants in surface waters.

For example, the legal limit for hexavalent chromium will now be reduced from 200μg/l, as had been stipulated by outdated legislation from 1979, to a new limit of 3μg/l.

Hexavalent chromium, or Cr(VI), is the carcinogenic compound that was found in drinking water in Hinkley, California, and made famous by Erin Brockovich.

Back on February 8, at Birbili’s first press conference about the Asopos, the minister promised to deliver a new legal framework within two months, which she has now partly delivered on.

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Η θέση των Οικολόγων Πράσινων για τις τελευταίες εξελίξεις στον Ασωπό

4 05 2009

Asopos river basin covers a total surface area of 450 km2 (East Attica and Viotia Districts), and extends to Evoikos Gulf. Seven Municipalities, a population of some 200.000 inhabitants, are located in the broad Asopos area, which is the largest industrial region of Greece, supporting 1300 Industrial facilities: Metal processing agrochemical, and food/beverage industries among others. In 1979, the river was appointed by the Regional Authorities (Prefectures of Attica and Viotia) as receiver of industrial sewage, this treaty is still in effect. As a result, the river and groundwater have been subject to long-term industrial pollution.

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Οικολόγοι Πράσινοι. Θέσεις για Ασωπό μετά την ημερίδα του Ευρωκοινοβουλίου

Polluters suspended from eco-cert scheme

4 05 2009


ΠΗΓΗ: Athens News

IN THE first move of its kind, the Greek environment ministry agency responsible for monitoring the environmental performance of companies has decided to remove two polluting firms from its register.

At its meeting on March 16, the Greek EMAS (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme) Committee decided to suspend the registration of paint manufacturer Berling ABEE and Aluminco AE, which produces aluminium.

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4 05 2009

SOURCE: Environment&Food

Concerning the pollution of the area and its consequences on the environment and public health, a Conference was organized at the European Parliament, by the European Green Party, in cooperation with the Ecologists-Greens (of Greece) and the Institute for Local Sustainable Development and Culture (ITAP). The Conference took place on April 15, 2009, and its subject was:

“Unsustainable Patterns of Water and Industrial Waste Management in Greece: The cases of Asopos River Basin, Lake Koroneia and Korinthiakos Gulf”.

This Conference proved an important tool regarding information and effective pressure, since among other things:


Chromium in Drinking Water Causes Cancer

2 03 2009


February 20, 2009
National Toxicology Program results «clearly» indicate that the heavy metal is carcinogenic

By Marla Cone and Environmental Health News

A controversial water contaminant made famous by Erin Brockovich and a small California desert town is carcinogenic.

That conclusion by federal scientists, culminating more than a decade of debate, is likely to trigger new, more stringent standards limiting the amount of hexavalent chromium allowable in water supplies.

It’s been known for about 20 years that people can contract lung cancer when inhaling hexavalent chromium, also known as Chromium VI. But until now, toxicologists have been uncertain whether it causes cancer when swallowed.

National Toxicology Program scientists reported that their two-year animal study «clearly demonstrates» that the compound is carcinogenic in drinking water. Mice and rats contracted malignant tumors in their small intestines and mouths when they drank water containing several different doses of hexavalent chromium.

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Asopos ‘contaminating food’

20 02 2009

Source: Kathimerini Newspaper

High traces of toxins in river water have tainted agricultural produce on sale in shops, street markets, study finds

New laboratory tests have shown that toxic substances in the water of the Asopos River in central Greece are also present in the agricultural produce being sold in the street markets and supermarkets of Athens.

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Οι μεθοδεύσεις της βιομηχανίας για τα όρια στο εξασθενές χρώμιο

18 11 2008

Είναι ένα «βαρύ» επιστημονικό κείμενο και επιπλέον είναι στα Αγγλικά.

Αλλά αξίζει. Διαβάστε τις μεθοδεύσεις της βιομηχανίας στις ΗΠΑ για τα όρια στο εξασθενές χρώμιο.


Η πηγή μας:

International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health

Νέα έρευνα από το Αμερικανικό Ινστιτούτο Επιστημών Περιβάλλοντος και Υγείας για τις επιπτώσεις εξασθενούς χρωμίου στο πόσιμο νερό (στα Αγγλικά)

8 07 2008

May 16, 2007
NIEHS PR # 07-04
Robin Mackar
(919) 541-0073

16 May 2007: Hexavalent Chromium in Drinking Water Causes Cancer in Lab Animals

Researchers announced today that there is strong evidence a chemical referred to as hexavalent chromium, or chromium 6, causes cancer in laboratory animals when it is consumed in drinking water. The two-year study conducted by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) shows that animals given hexavalent chromium developed malignant tumors.

«Previous studies have shown that hexavalent chromium causes lung cancer in humans in certain occupational settings as a result of inhalation exposure,» said Michelle Hooth, Ph.D., NTP study scientist for the technical report. «We now know that it can also cause cancer in animals when administered orally.»

The study findings were announced at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences ( (NIEHS) after the NTP Board of Scientific Counselors Technical Reports Review Subcommittee completed its independent peer review of the sodium dichromate dihydrate research report. Sodium dichromate dihydrate is an inorganic compound containing hexavalent chromium that was used in the NTP studies. The NTP is located at the NIEHS, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Hexavalent chromium compounds are often used in electroplating, leather tanning, and textile manufacturing and have been found in some drinking water sources.

Male and female rats and mice were given four different doses of sodium dichromate dihydrate in their drinking water ranging from 14.3 mg/l to 516 mg/l for two years.

The lowest doses given to the animals in the study were ten times higher than what humans could consume from the most highly contaminated water sources identified in California.

The researchers report finding significant increases in tumors at sites where tumors are rarely seen in laboratory animals. Male and female rats had malignant tumors in the oral cavity. The studies conducted in mice found increases in the number of benign and malignant tumors in the small intestine, which increased with dose in both males and females.

«We found that hexavalent chromium is absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract,» said Hooth. «After it is orally administered, it is taken up by the cells in many tissues and organs.»

Hexavalent chromium has been brought to the public’s attention in many ways, most notably in the movie «Erin Brockovich». Eleven members from the California Congressional Delegation sent a letter to the NTP Director requesting the NTP conduct the studies. Nominations for studying this compound also came from the California Environmental Protection Agency and the California Department of Health Services. The NTP began work on this compound after gaining input from the public and a panel of scientific experts about the study design.

The two-year study is one of several studies that NTP has completed on this chemical. A series of three-month toxicity tests in rats and different mouse strains was published in January 2007 in the «NTP Toxicity Report Series» at ( Exit NIEHS Website.

Details about the meeting, subcommittee roster and draft technical reports are available at ( Exit NIEHS Website.

The National Toxicology Program is an interagency program coordinated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is located at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) in Research Triangle Park. For more information about the NTP, visit ( Exit NIEHS Website.

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), a component of the National Institutes of Health, supports research to understand the effects of the environment on human health. For more information on environmental health topics, visit (

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) – The Nation’s Medical Research Agency – includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit (

Πάμε για ‘Οσκαρ… Πάλι μας κράζει η Έριν Μπρόγκοβιτς: «Bad news in Oinofyta».

28 12 2007
Posted On: December 11, 2007 by Erin Brockovich

Bad News in Oinofyta

The saying «No news is good news» is not always true.

Recently I started poring the headlines looking for fresh news from OINOFYTA, Greece.

Factories have been dumping waste in the Asopos River for decades, resulting in such severe pollution in Oinofyta that the residents have been held hostage by the damage. The water is undrinkable and untouchable; the tourist beaches have been declared unfit for swimming.

In the news, a few months ago, there was brief political acknowledgement and uproar. The pollution was recognized. Politicians promised to bring down the law on the factories and industries which had compromised the safety of the water by dumping industrial waste into the river.

There were a lot of promises made. Punishment, fines levied against the perpetrators. Developments in providing fresh and healthy drinking water for the residents. Monitoring and controls put in place to prevent more pollutions. Water cleaning facilities.

So of course, I open my newspapers and turn on my computer thinking I will see plenty of articles of all of these good things coming to life–all of these promises made by politicians to protect their constituency from poisoning by industrial pollutors.

But I see nothing.

No new news.

No positive developments.

The only news I find is more public outcry by the damaged parties.

On December 6. Reuters released an article detailing the hazards of chromium 6: «Used as an anti-corrosive in the production of stainless steel, paint, ink, plastics and dyes, the metal is on the European Union’s list of restricted substances and listed as a carcinogen by the World Health Organization.»

This isn’t really news. The only recent news regarding chromium 6 is that it is more dangerous than they thought it was; instead of only causing lung cancer, it is now «believed in some medical circles to cause an array of blood and intestinal cancers when ingested in water.»

I continued reading the Reuters article. I did find something new, but it was not news of all of the progress that has been done.

I found a new outcry from the public.

It is true that in August, inspectors dug up 20 illegal pipelines dumping untreated waste in violation of regulations.

It is true that in November, the government imposed two million dollars worth of fines against the twenty guilty companies.

It is also true that the companies are planning to protest–and that there are more polluters out there.

In fact, one of the comments on my blog included a letter from a local detailing how the factories were polluting the aquifer by piping their polluted waste into deep wells rather than pumping to the river and getting caught.

So we hear the public outcry.

We hear the voice of biochemical engineer Thanasis Panteloglou who has been trying to get this area cleaned up since 2000. And now he asks, Why are they killing us?» said Panteloglou. «I am shouting: stop committing this crime, stop killing the people. Someone has to hear me.»

We hear you Thanasis.

We hear you and we ask, how can we help?

ΠΡΟΣ Ελληνική συντεταγμένη Πολιτεία, ενταύθα: ΤΙ ΤΗΣ ΑΠΑΝΤΑΜΕ;

River runs purple and contaminates Greek town

10 12 2007

River runs purple and contaminates Greek town By Deborah Kyvrikosaios

OINOFYTA, Greece (Reuters) – The river started turning purple 10 years ago, but the people in the small Greek town of Oinofyta who were losing loved ones to cancer never thought of blaming the water.

Factories have been dumping waste in the Asopos River for decades and nearby tourist beaches were declared unfit for swimming, but there were no official warnings to the people of the town, in an industrial zone about 60 km (35 miles) north of Athens.

It took until this year for official tests to show drinking water was contaminated with high levels of the carcinogen chromium 6, catching the attention of U.S. advocate Erin Brockovich and spreading shock and anger in the town.

sed as an anti-corrosive in the production of stainless steel, paint, ink, plastics and dyes, the metal is on the European Union’s list of restricted substances and listed as a carcinogen by the World Health Organisation.

It poses health risks if inhaled or orally ingested, or comes into contact with skin.

Since 1989, the proportion of deaths in the town caused by cancer has risen to 32 percent from 6 percent previously, according to Oinofyta’s priest, Father Yannis.

«When I heard it was so dangerous that you’re not even supposed to come into contact with it, I was terrified,» said resident Dina Fouki, a 35-year-old mother of two. «I have lost loved ones and will lose more. Something must be done.»

Fouki has lost her father and in-laws to cancer in the past five years and her friend has been diagnosed with the disease. Now she and her neighbors will not even brush their teeth with tap water.

A putrid stench rises from the river, whose waters run from red to black and ripple with bubbling sludge. Despite the obvious pollution, local people said officials never warned them of the risks in the 30 years since the factories set up in the area.

«When we lost our relatives we started getting suspicious,» Fouki said. «But we didn’t know. How could we?»

Brockovich, made famous by a Hollywood film about how the water supply of Hinkley in California had been contaminated with chromium 6 in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, has discussed the Asopos pollution on her Web site and plans to visit the area.


A biochemical engineer and the priest joined forces in a crusade to force authorities to take action. After years of campaigning, tests by the state lab showed the water supply, contaminated by the Asopos, had high levels of the chemical, also known as hexavalent chromium.

«In the beginning, 2000-2002, no one was listening,» said biochemical engineer Thanasis Panteloglou. «Authorities were in denial.»

His co-campaigner Father Yannis searched for medical proof that the water was having an effect on health, but could find none. What he did find was that in the past 18 years, 198 people in a town of 3,000 had died of cancer.

«We are enraged over being fooled for so many years. We fear our health is damaged. We are desperate and angry,» he said.

It started in 1969, when factories were first allowed to dump waste unrestricted into the Asopos. Although authorities later put restrictions on what could be discharged, many factories built illegal underground pipelines straight into the water and continued to empty untreated waste.

«Many people knew that Asopos was polluted but they were not aware of the extent of this pollution,» said Greenpeace Greece president Nikos Charalambidis. «Pollution was not the first priority at the time, industrialization of the area was.»


After chromium 6 was detected in August this year, government inspectors dug up 20 illegal pipelines dumping untreated waste in violation of regulations.

In November, the government imposed fines totaling 1.4 million euros ($2 million) on 20 companies, saying they should be using waste treatment systems. It vowed to toughen anti-dumping laws and said it would not hesitate to shut down factories violating the rules.

«If the same factory violates the law again, then we will have to stop its operation,» said Evangelos Baltas, general secretary in the Environment Ministry.

Some of the companies that were fined deny wrongdoing and say they will challenge the penalties in court.

«We do not pollute the river with chromium, period,» said a representative of industrial packaging manufacturer Maillis, which received a 160,000-euro fine. «All solid and liquid waste that comes out of the production process goes through a number of consecutive treatments.»

Maillis said government tests in October showed its waste did not contain chromium 6.

A further report by the Association of Greek Chemists commissioned by the town in October confirmed the water’s high chromium 6 content and went on to say the water was dangerous to human health and its human and domestic use should be suspended.

The government has said it wants to create a waste treatment system for all industries in the area, seal off the illegal pipelines and supply drinking water to Oinofyta from elsewhere.

The water supply has not been shut off and concerns have grown over the safety of produce from farms that use it for irrigation, and of the waters of the Evoikos Gulf, full of tourist beaches.

«We don’t know the extent of the area that might be affected so far, but we are taking measurements,» said Baltas. «The problem is with the groundwater and the soil.»

People in the town say authorities are doing too little, too late, to save them from contamination and demand immediate access to clean water.

«Why are they killing us?» said Panteloglou. «I am shouting: stop committing this crime, stop killing the people. Someone has to hear me.»

(Reporting by Deborah Kyvrikosaios;, editing by Dina Kyriakidou and Sara Ledwith)

A visit to the «Asopos» river – Young Reporters – 2004

14 11 2007

A visit to the «Asopos» river

This year, the Environmental Team of Oinofyta High School has decided to deal with the river «Asopos». Asopos river springs from the «Kitheronas» mountain, in region of Voiotia Central Greece, and flows into South Evoikos Gulf, near Oropos city, in region of Attiki.

Our Team has chosen this project for the following reasons: Firstly, because there is an important issue of pollution in our area and secondly, due to the fact that the river crosses the town of Oinofyta, an area that our school is situated as well. Years ago Asopos was a very clean river where the habitants even used to swim in. In addition, there were many species of animals and plants.

Our Team visited the river on the 16th December 2004 in a certain point nearby our school in order to ascertain its condition. The view we faced was disappointing… The river was not only obscene but it has also been converted to a rubish dump. Every kind of rubbish were thrown into the bed of the river and the colour of its scarce water looked rather black. Of course, the pollution of the river is not caused by the rubbish that the habitants throw, but mainly due to the fact that our area which the river flows is industrial. It is considered that over than 300 factories dispose their liquid waste into the river. So, the river is used as a place of disposal of factories’ waste. Throughout the river, if someone wants to visit it, will find out that there are a lot of «pipes» of factories which throw into the river not processssed wastes. Some factories have biological cleaning but it is doubtful whether they use it, as the cost of their operation is high.

As for the life of the river, we could say that it has not died totally yet, because it can easily be observed that there are many small birds which keep their nests among the stubbles and this is a very optimistic point. Asopos’ pollution is a very serious problem that concerns our region, because the contaminated water not only is not drinkable but also pollutes the surrounding fields which produce agricultural products such as wheat, vegetables, grapes e.t.c. These products, though, result in our plates after a little time.

These were some first impressions and conclusions that we have following our visit to the river and we hope that some actions will be taken in order to find a solution for this extremely severe problem.

George Gillamenti Nick Alevras 3d Class of Oinofyta High School Voiotia Greece

Erin Brockovich: Send a message for Asopos river!

14 11 2007

Toxic Emergency in Greece!

The Asopos river in Greece is providing toxic drinking water to tens of thousands of people, who are getting sick and dying at alarming rates. With over 400,000 times the amount of Chromium 6 that should be in groundwater, the river is running red — and the death rate from cancer in a town that draws water from the river has jumped from six to 32 percent!

Send a message using the form below to the U.S. Ambassador to Greece demanding pressure be applied to the Greek government to provide a new water source for those living off the Asopos and to enforce laws on the books meant to regulate the over 85 industries operating on the river. Friends of the Earth will copy the government of Greece so they know the United States is paying attention.

Thank you,

Erin Brockovich

Brown University: Chromium 6: A Killer Compound With An Improbable Trigger

8 11 2007

Chromium 6: A Killer Compound With An Improbable Trigger

Chromium 6, the cancer-causing compound that sparked the legal crusade by Erin Brockovich, can be toxic in tiny doses. Brown University scientists have uncovered the unlikely culprit: vitamin C. In new research, the Brown team shows that when vitamin C reacts with even low doses of chromium 6 inside human cells, it creates high levels of cancer-causing DNA damage and mutations.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] – Even miniscule amounts of chromium 6 can cause cancer. Blame that do-gooder nutrient, vitamin C.

Brown University researchers have discovered that naturally occurring vitamin C reacts inside human lung cells with chromium 6, or hexavalent chromium, and causes massive DNA damage. Low doses of chromium 6, combined with vitamin C, produce up to 15 times as many chromosomal breaks and up to 10 times more mutations – forms of genetic damage that lead to cancer – compared with cells that lacked vitamin C altogether.

This finding is startling, said Anatoly Zhitkovich, an associate professor of medical science at Brown who oversaw the experiments. Outside cells, Zhitkovich said, vitamin C actually protects against the cellular damage caused by hexavalent chromium, the toxic chemical that starred as the villain in the true-to-life Hollywood drama, Erin Brockovich. In fact, vitamin C has been used as an antidote in industrial accidents and other instances when large amounts of chromium are ingested.

Vitamin C works protective wonders because it is a powerful antioxidant, blocking cellular damage from free radicals. Specifically, the vitamin rapidly «reduces,» or adds electrons, to free radicals, converting them into harmless molecules. This electron transfer from vitamin C to chromium 6 produces chromium 3, a form of the compound that is unable to enter cells.

But what happens when chromium and vitamin C come together inside cells? Because vitamin C isn’t found in cells grown in a lab, Zhitkovich and his team conducted experiments using human lung cells supplemented with vitamin C. They learned that when vitamin C is present, chromium reduction has a very different effect. Cellular vitamin C acted as a potent toxic amplifier, sparking significantly more chromosomal breaks and cellular mutations.

«When we increased the concentration of vitamin C inside cells, we saw progressively more mutations and DNA breaks, showing how seemingly innocuous amounts of chromium can become toxic,» Zhitkovich said. «For years, scientists have wondered why exposure to small amounts of hexavalent chromium can cause such high rates of cancer. Now we know. It’s vitamin C.»

Hexavalent chromium is used to plate metals and to make paints, dyes, plastics and inks. As an anticorrosive agent, it is also added to stainless steel, which releases hexavalent chromium during welding. Hexavalent chromium causes lung cancer and is found in 40 percent of Superfund sites nationwide. This is the toxic metal, found in drinking water in a small California town, that Erin Brockovich campaigned against, successfully winning residents a record settlement of $333 million in 1996.

Zhitkovich said his team’s research, published in Nucleic Acids Research, might have policy implications. When combined with vitamin C, chromium 6 caused genetic damage in cells in doses four times lower than current federal standards, Zhitkovich said. If additional research backs these findings, he said federal regulators might want to lower exposure standards.

Zhitkovich is part of a major Brown research initiative, the Superfund Basic Research Program, which addresses the health and environmental concerns created by hazardous waste contamination. As part of this program, funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Zhitkovich is conducting basic research that may result in a medical test that assesses DNA damage from hexavalent chromium.

Former Brown graduate student Mindy Reynolds was lead author of the journal article. Brown research assistant Lauren Stoddard and postdoctoral research associate Ivan Bespalov also took part in the research.

The National Institutes of Health funded the work.

Editors: Brown University has a fiber link television studio available for domestic and international live and taped interviews and maintains an ISDN line for radio interviews. For more information, call the Office of Media Relations at (401) 863-2476.

Επιπτώσεις Χρωμίου στην υγεία – Αμερικανικο υπουργείο εργασίας (αγγλικά)

29 10 2007

Chromium Compounds

Hazard Summary-Created in April 1992; Revised in January 2000

Chromium occurs in the environment primarily in two valence states, trivalent chromium (Cr III) and hexavalent chromium (Cr VI).  Exposure may occur from natural or industrial sources of chromium.  Chromium III is much less toxic than chromium (VI).  The respiratory tract is also the major target organ for chromium (III) toxicity, similar to chromium (VI). Chromium (III) is an essential element in humans.  The body can detoxify some amount of chromium (VI) to chromium (III).The respiratory tract is the major target organ for chromium (VI) toxicity, for acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) inhalation exposures. Shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing were reported from a case of acute exposure to chromium (VI), while perforations and ulcerations of the septum, bronchitis, decreased pulmonary function, pneumonia, and other respiratory effects have been noted from chronic exposure.  Human studies have clearly established that inhaled chromium (VI) is a human carcinogen, resulting in an increased risk of lung cancer.  Animal studies have shown chromium (VI) to cause lung tumors via inhalation exposure.

Please Note: The main sources of information for this fact sheet are EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS), which contains information on inhalation chronic toxicity and the RfC and oral chronic toxicity and the RfD, and the carcinogenic effects of chromium including the unit cancer risk for inhalation exposure, EPA’s Toxicological Review of Trivalent Chromium and Toxicological Review of Hexavalent Chromium, and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s (ATSDR’s) Toxicological Profile for Chromium.


  • The metal chromium is used mainly for making steel and other alloys. (1)
  • Chromium compounds, in either the chromium (III) or chromium (VI) forms, are used for chrome plating, the manufacture of dyes and pigments, leather and wood preservation, and treatment of cooling tower water.  Smaller amounts are used in drilling muds, textiles, and toner for copying machines. (1)

Sources and Potential Exposure

  • Chromium is a naturally occurring element in rocks, animals, plants, soil, and volcanic dust and gases. (1)
  • Chromium occurs in the environment predominantly in one of two valence states: trivalent chromium (Cr III), which occurs naturally and is an essential nutrient, and hexavalent chromium (Cr VI), which, along with the less common metallic chromium (Cr 0), is most commonly produced by industrial processes. (1)
  • Chromium (III) is essential to normal glucose, protein, and fat metabolism and is thus an essential dietary element.  The body has several systems for reducing chromium (VI) to chromium (III).  This chromium (VI) detoxification leads to increased levels of chromium (III). (1)
  • Air emissions of chromium are predominantly of trivalent chromium, and in the form of small particles or aerosols. (1,2)
  • The most important industrial sources of chromium in the atmosphere are those related to ferrochrome production.  Ore refining, chemical and refractory processing, cement-producing plants, automobile brake lining and catalytic converters for automobiles, leather tanneries, and chrome pigments also contribute to the atmospheric burden of chromium. (3)
  • The general population is exposed to chromium (generally chromium [III]) by eating food, drinking water, and inhaling air that contains the chemical. The average daily intake from air, water, and food is estimated to be less than 0.2 to 0.4 micrograms (µg), 2.0 µg, and 60 µg, respectively. (1)
  • Dermal exposure to chromium may occur during the use of consumer products that contain chromium, such as wood treated with copper dichromate or leather tanned with chromic sulfate. (1)
  • Occupational exposure to chromium occurs from chromate production, stainless-steel production, chrome plating, and working in tanning industries; occupational exposure can be two orders of magnitude higher than exposure to the general population. (1)
  • People who live in the vicinity of chromium waste disposal sites or chromium manufacturing and processing plants have a greater probability of elevated chromium exposure than the general population.  These exposures are generally to mixed chromium (VI) and chromium (III). (1)

Assessing Personal Exposure

  • Laboratory tests can detect chromium in the blood, urine, and hair of exposed individuals. (1,5)
  • In many cases analysis is done for total chromium because it is difficult to differentiate between chromium VI and chromium III in tests. (1)

Health Hazard Information

Acute Effects:

Chromium VI

  • Chromium (VI) is much more toxic than chromium (III), for both acute and chronic exposures. (1,3,4)
  • The respiratory tract is the major target organ for chromium (VI) following inhalation exposure in humans.  Shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing were reported in cases where an individual inhaled very high concentrations of chromium trioxide. (1,4)
  • Other effects noted from acute inhalation exposure to very high concentrations of chromium (VI) include gastrointestinal and neurological effects, while dermal exposure causes skin burns in humans. (1,4,5)
  • Ingestion of high amounts of chromium (VI) causes gastrointestinal effects in humans and animals, including abdominal pain, vomiting, and hemorrhage. (1)
  • Acute animal tests have shown chromium (VI) to have extreme toxicity from inhalation and oral exposure. (1,6)

Chromium III

  • Chromium (III) is an essential element in humans, with a daily intake of 50 to 200 µg/d recommended for adults. (1)
  • Acute animal tests have shown chromium (III) to have moderate toxicity from oral exposure. (1,6)

Chronic Effects (Noncancer)

Chromium VI

  • Chronic inhalation exposure to chromium (VI) in humans results in effects on the respiratory tract, with perforations and ulcerations of the septum, bronchitis, decreased pulmonary function, pneumonia, asthma, and nasal itching and soreness reported. (1,4,5)
  • Chronic human exposure to high levels of chromium (VI) by inhalation or oral exposure may produce effects on the liver, kidney, gastrointestinal and immune systems, and possibly the blood. (1,4,5)
  • Rat studies have shown that, following inhalation exposure, the lung and kidney have the highest tissue levels of chromium. (1,4,5)
  • Dermal exposure to chromium (VI) may cause contact dermatitis, sensitivity, and ulceration of the skin. (1,4,5)
  • The Reference Concentration (RfC) for chromium (VI) (particulates) is 0.0001 mg/m3 based on respiratory effects in rats.  The RfC is an estimate (with uncertainty spanning perhaps an order of magnitude) of a continuous inhalation exposure to the human population (including sensitive subgroups) that is likely to be without appreciable risk of deleterious noncancer effects during a lifetime.  It is not a direct estimator of risk but rather a reference point to gauge the potential effects. At exposures increasingly greater than the RfC, the potential for adverse health effects increases.  Lifetime exposure above the RfC does not imply that an adverse health effect would necessarily occur. (7)
  • EPA has medium confidence in the RfC for chromium VI (particulates) based on medium confidence in the study on which it was based because of uncertainties regarding upper respiratory tract, reproductive, and renal effects resulting from the exposures. (7)
  • The Reference Concentration (RfC) for chromium (VI) (chromic acid mists and dissolved Cr (VI) aerosols) is 0.000008 mg/m3 based on respiratory effects in humans. (7)
  • EPA has low confidence in the RfC based on low confidence in the study on which the RfC for chromium (VI) (chromic acid mists and dissolved Cr (VI) aerosols) is based.  This is because of (1) the uncertainties regarding the exposure characterization and the role of direct contact for the critical effect; and (2) low confidence in the supporting studies which are equally uncertain regarding the exposure characterization. (7)
  • The Reference Dose (RfD) for chromium (VI) is 0.003 mg/kg/d based on the exposure at which no effects were noted in rats exposed to chromium in the drinking water. (7)
  • EPA has low confidence in the RfD based on: low confidence in the study on which the RfD for chromium (VI) was based because a small number of animals were tested, a small number of parameters were measured, and no toxic effects were noted at the highest dose tested; and low confidence in the database because the supporting studies are of equally low quality and developmental endpoints are not well studied. (7)

Chromium III

  • Although data from animal studies have identified the respiratory tract as the major target organ for chronic chromium exposure, these data do not demonstrate that the effects observed following inhalation of chromium (VI) particulates are relevant to inhalation of chromium (III). (8)
  • EPA has not established an RfC for chromium (III). (8)
  • The RfD for chromium (III) is 1.5 mg/kg/d based on the exposure level at which no effects were observed in rats exposed to chromium (III) in the diet. (8)
  • EPA has low confidence in the RfD based on: low confidence in the study on which the RfD for chromium (III) was based due to the lack of explicit detail on study protocol and results; and low confidence in the database due to the lack of high-dose supporting data. (8)

Reproductive/Developmental Effects:

Chromium VI

  • Limited information on the reproductive effects of chromium (VI) in humans exposed by inhalation suggest that exposure to chromium (VI) may result in complications during pregnancy and childbirth. (1)
  • Animal studies have not reported reproductive or developmental effects from inhalation exposure to chromium (VI).  Oral studies have reported severe developmental effects in mice such as gross abnormalities and reproductive effects including decreased litter size, reduced sperm count, and degeneration of the outer cellular layer of the seminiferous tubules. (1,4)

Chromium III

  • No information is available on the reproductive or developmental effects of chromium (III) in humans. (3)
  • A study of mice fed high levels of chromium (III) in their drinking water has suggested a potential for reproductive effects, although various study characteristics preclude a definitive finding. (3)
  • No developmental effects were reported in the offspring of rats fed chromium (III) during their developmental period. (1,3)

Cancer Risk:

Chromium VI

  • Epidemiological studies of workers have clearly established that inhaled chromium is a human carcinogen, resulting in an increased risk of lung cancer. Although chromium-exposed workers were exposed to both chromium (III) and chromium (VI) compounds, only chromium (VI) has been found to be carcinogenic in animal studies, so EPA has concluded that only chromium (VI) should be classified as a human carcinogen. (1,7)
  • Animal studies have shown chromium (VI) to cause lung tumors via inhalation exposure. (1,5)
  • EPA has classified chromium (VI) as a Group A, known human carcinogen by the inhalation route of exposure. (7)
  • EPA used a mathematical model, based on data from an occupational study of chromate production workers, to estimate the probability of a person developing cancer from continuously breathing air containing a specified concentration of chromium.  EPA calculated an inhalation unit risk estimate of 1.2 × 10-2 (µg/m3)-1.  EPA estimates that, if an individual were to continuously breathe air containing chromium at an average of 0.00008 µg/m3 (8 x 10-8 mg/m3) over his or her entire lifetime, that person would theoretically have no more than a one-in-a-million increased risk of developing cancer. Similarly, EPA estimates that continuously breathing air containing 0.0008 µg/m3 (8 x 10-7 mg/m3) would result in not greater than a one-in-a-hundred thousand increased risk of developing cancer during one’s lifetime, and air containing 0.008 µg/m3  (8 x 10-6 mg/m3) would result in not greater than a one-in-ten-thousand increased risk of developing cancer during one’s lifetime.  For a detailed discussion of confidence in the potency estimates, please see IRIS. (7)

Chromium III

  • No data are available on the carcinogenic potential of chromium (III) compounds alone. (1,8)
  • EPA has classified chromium (III) as a Group D, not classifiable as to carcinogenicity in humans. (8)
  • EPA has stated that «the classification of chromium (VI) as a known human carcinogen raises a concern for the carcinogenic potential of chromium (III)». (8)

Χρώμιο: Αμερικάνικο Υπουργείο Απασχόλησης (στα Αγγλικά)

29 10 2007

Επιπτώσεις εξασθενούς χρωμίου (από το Αμερικάνικο Ινστιτούτο για εργασιακή ασφάλεια και υγεία – Αγγλικά)

29 10 2007

NIOSH Safety and Health Topic:

Hexavalent Chromium

Hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)) compounds are a group of chemical substances that contain the metallic element chromium in its positive-6 valence (hexavalent) state. Occupational exposures to Cr(VI) occur during the production of stainless steel, chromate chemicals, and chromate pigments. Cr(VI) exposures also occur during other work activities such as stainless steel welding, thermal cutting, chrome plating, painting, and coating processes.

NIOSH considers all Cr(VI) 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.

Cr(VI) compounds vary in solubility from those that are readily soluble to those which are practically insoluble in water. In 1975 NIOSH documented the carcinogenic effects of water-insoluble Cr(VI) compounds. The NIOSH 1988 testimony to OSHA on the air contaminants standard recommended that all Cr(VI) compounds, regardless of their degree of solubility in water, be considered occupational carcinogens. NIOSH is currently reviewing and evaluating the available information on Cr(VI) compounds including the toxicology, health effects, industrial hygiene, and analytical chemistry literature in order to update its 1975 criteria document on Cr(VI).



H άποψη της Erin Brochovich για τις ενέργειες για τον Ασωπό

28 10 2007

Αυτό που ίσως δεν ξέρει η κυρία Μπρόκοβιτς είναι ότι στην Ελλάδα τα μέτρα αυτά ξεχνιούνται μετά από λίγο καιρό.

Και ότι ανάλογα λίγο πολύ μέτρα συζητάμε εδώ και 11 χρόνια για τον Ασωπό…



Posted On: October 19, 2007 by Erin Brockovich

Healing Environmental Wounds

I’m about to visit the Asopos River. You may have heard of it; it is that river in Greece that has been in the news lately. I’ve talked about it before. It provides toxic tap water to tens of thousands of people, who have been getting sick and dying. Perhaps they should start calling it the red river, because now, because of the toxins, it runs red. That red is a potent reminder of all the people who have fallen victim to its waters.


The Chromium 6 content is over 400,000 times the amount that should be in groundwater. Of course, this is just one of the lethal cocktails that makeup the river. 85 industries have been operating and polluting along the river with no supervision, since the Greek government had designates the Asopos not a river, but a «sludge tube!» How would you feel about having no water source except a sludge tube?


But I have news. I received this email from Carol Kalin, of the U.S. Embassy in Athens:

Here is the letter:

Dear Ms. Brockvich,

Many people contacted the U.S. Embassy in Athens to express concern about the Asopos River, including from Friends of the Earth, following your August 25 post. We thought that you and they would be interested to know that the new Greek Minister of Environment Giorgos Souflias just announced a series of measures to protect residents living near the Asopos River, as well as a major probe to determine which companies have contributed to the pollution problem.


Like other U.S. Embassies around the world, we regularly discuss environmental issues with the Greek public — whose consciousness is rising rapidly — as well as with NGOs and the Greek government. From the U.S. Embassy in Athens, I thank you for your interest in our work and your support for our activities on behalf of the American people.

Carol Kalin, Spokesperson


So I looked into it.

AP tells us that last week a probe exposed 10 firms which have been dumping chemical waste into the Asopos. There is bad news and good news. Bad that manufacturers have been dumping, good that they have been caught red handed. In fact, they have been heavily fined, and their licenses revoked. At this stage of the investigation, more violators are expected to be discovered. Officials are searching for secret waste disposal pipes.


I applaud the Greek government, who is finally doing something, and the Greek Minister of Environment who is leading the way.


Environment and Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias announced the following measures are planned:

* The construction of a drainage network to channel toxic waste from local manufacturers away from the river

* The creation of a new irrigation network to supply residents of Oinofyta, Tanagra and Avlida with water from the River Mornos

* Two pollution-measuring stations in Oinofyta and in eastern Attica to monitor the presence of toxic substances in the river water.

* The delineation of «protected zones» in the area of the Asopos River

* Stricter restrictions on the activities of local manufacturers

* Harsher penalties for offenders.

Local officials want regular inspections and monitoring of water quality, a cleanup effort, and «staff boosts» to get the ball rolling.

So when I go back, I might even take a side tour and visit Kifissos River and Lake Koroneia. I’d like to take a look around there, where in spite of twenty-four million in funding, the lake protection project has been delayed–and two hundred birds were recently found there, dead. I wonder why.


When I go to Greece, I don’t expect to see a perfect river. But I am looking forward to seeing those bulldozers I read about in action or some other sign of clean up. There is a tough road ahead, but the hardest one–acknowledging the problem, has already begun.


I can’t wait to congratulate the Friends of the Earth, Giorgos Souflias, the locals and all the others who have worked so hard to bring awareness about this crucial issue. Most importantly, if everyone does their part, there will be a reward at the end of the day; and that will be when the people of Oinofyta, Tanagra and Avlida will have healthful, clean tap water, and the waters of the Asopos River again run sweet.

Toxic Emergency in Greece! Erin Brockovich – Φίλοι της Γης

28 10 2007

Διαμαρτυρία και ηλεκτρονική ψηφοφορία για την ρύπανση του Ασωπού από την διάσημη  Erin Brockovich.


Διαβάστε το κείμενο και επισκευθείτε την σελίδα για να υπογράψετε.


Toxic Emergency in Greece!

The Asopos river in Greece is providing toxic drinking water to tens of thousands of people, who are getting sick and dying at alarming rates. With over 400,000 times the amount of Chromium 6 that should be in groundwater, the river is running red — and the death rate from cancer in a town that draws water from the river has jumped from six to 32 percent!



Send a message using the form below to the U.S. Ambassador to Greece demanding pressure be applied to the Greek government to provide a new water source for those living off the Asopos and to enforce laws on the books meant to regulate the over 85 industries operating on the river. Friends of the Earth will copy the government of Greece so they know the United States is paying attention.


Thank you,

Erin Brockovich