Water systems in every county in New Jersey have been found to contain the toxin chromium-6, which can cause severe health problems, and which played a central role in the true-to-life plot of the 2000 movie "Erin Brockovich."

tap water
Helmut Seisenberger, ThinkStock

A study by Environmental Working Group uncovered varied amounts of the chemical compound, also known as hexavalent chromium, in all 50 U.S. states, affecting nearly 200 million Americans.

Even small doses of chromium-6 may cause liver damage, reproductive and developmental complications, and cancer, the report said.

New Jersey's levels measured well below the federal limit of 100 parts per billion of combined chromium in tap water — the Garden State does not currently have a legal standard especially for chromium-6 — but Environmental Working Group said that limit is set too high.

The advocacy group's determination was based on California's public health goal of 0.02 parts per billion, an NJ Advance Media article reports — though California's actual legal standard is 10 parts per billion. Jersey also fell below that limit, which corresponds to 10 drops of water in an Olympic-size swimming pool.

Environmental Working Group's study collected more than 60,000 samples from 2013 to 2015, 75 percent of which were said to contain chromium-6.

Patrick Lavery produces “New Jersey’s First News” and is New Jersey 101.5’s morning drive breaking news reporter. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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