Chromium is an elemental metal which takes on several common molecular formations. The most toxic form, hexavalent chromium, is used in, or is the byproduct of, industries including chrome plating, leather tanning, paint and textile pigments, and stainless steel welding. A common industrial pollutant, hexavalent chromium has been documented at approximately two-thirds of all EPA Superfund sites.
What Can I Do On My Project?
• Request Health Product Declarations (HPD) from product vendors and manufacturers.
An HPD identifies health hazards associated with product ingredients.
• Ask product representatives about metal, leather and pigment options which do not involve hexavalent chromium in the production process.
Some manufacturers offer chrome-free metal finishes, and some leather producers use tanning methods which eliminate the hexavalent chromium byproduct.
• Consider selecting furniture without chrome plated components, and ask product representatives about hexavalent chromium-free plating options.
• Ask plumbing fitting representatives about hexavalent chromium-free plating options.
• Specify Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS)-compliant controls, wire, cable, electronic and electrical equipment, including lighting fixtures.
The European RoHS restricts the use of six hazardous materials (including mercury, lead, and cadmium) in the manufacture of electronic and electrical equipment.
• Workers in many industries are at risk of exposure to hexavalent chromium through inhalation.
• Because it can contaminate water and soil for decades, hexavalent chromium poses a risk to communities where these industries are located.
• People in affected communities become exposed by eating contaminated food, drinking contaminated water, and breathing contaminated workplace air.
Hexavalent chromium exposure is associated with:
• Blood disorders
• Gastrointestinal disorders
• Impairment of respiratory functions