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Chromium is a naturally occurring element that can be in the form of a solid, liquid, or gas. It can be found naturally occurring in plants, animals, rocks, and soil. Chromium can also be emitted into air and deposited into soil and water during the manufacturing of chromium and from disposal. Hexavalent chromium is a chromium compound that is toxic to humans and is used by many industries.

Chromium Exposure

Different ways you can be exposed to chromium are as follows:

  • Eating food that contains chromium
  • Drinking contaminated well water
  • Workplace skin contact or breathing in contaminated air
  • Living close to hazardous uncontrolled chromium waste sites

Hexavalent chromium exposure:

  • Working with chromium (welding, “hot work”)
  • Working with dyes, spray paints, coatings, pigment
  • Workers in industries that conduct processes that utilize chromium
  • Chrome painting

Chromium Health Effects

Chromium toxFAQs:

  • Cancers such as lung cancer (From chromium inhalation) and stomach cancer(from drinking water contaminated with chromium)
  • When inhaled can cause nose ulcers, asthma, breathing problems, runny nose, wheezing. 
  • Has been shown to cause stomach ulcers and irritation in animals

Hexavalent Chromium Impacts:

  • Asthma
  • Eye irritation
  • Respiratory irritation
  • Respiratory cancer
  • Skin irritation
  • Erosion and discoloration of teeth

Avoiding Chromium Exposure

  • Avoid tobacco smoke
  • Avoid old, pressure treated wood
  • Wash yourself and your clothing after dealing with chromium in the workplace
  • More info

Avoiding hexavalent chromium exposure

  • Use chromate-free paints and coatings
  • Make sure you’re informed about whether hexavalent chromium has been reported in your environment by health officials
  • More info