Wildfires Could Be Transforming Natural Metals Into Cancer-Causing Compounds

"Wildfires in parts of the U.S. West may be transforming a benign form of chromium into its cancer-causing counterpart — potentially endangering first responders and surrounding communities, a new study has found.

The research, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, identified high levels of the hazardous metal hexavalent chromium, or chromium-6, at specific types of burn sites along California’s North Coast.

Also known as “the Erin Brockovich chemical,” chromium-6 emerged in the public eye in the 1990s after Brockovich — then a legal aid — found that it was contaminating drinking water and sickening residents of Hinkley, Calif.

This toxic compound, which raises cancer risk when inhaled or ingested, was not present at the sites of interest for the study before they burned."

Sharon Udasin reports for The Hill December 12, 2023.

Source: The Hill, 12/13/2023