Hexavalent Chromium

Hexavalent Chromium (Cr6) is a chemical compound that is used in industrial materials such as textile dyes, wood preservatives, paints, primers, inks, plastics, and metal for creating shiny, protective coatings. It is also used in hot work such as welding on stainless steel. It is a toxic form of chromium. Occupational exposure occurs through inhaling of dusts/mists/fumes or eye/skin contact. Cr6 is hazardous for workers who handle chromate-containing products or workers who weld, grind, or braze stainless steel. It is naturally found in the environment and can also be man-made. In the U.S., it can be found in ground water in concentrations ranging from one to five parts per billion (ppb). The EPA has set standards for drinking water and a maximum contaminated level of 100 ppb for all chromium including Cr6. All water utilities must meet this standard. Many industries and manufacturers (particularly of ceramics, glass, roofing, coatings, inks, plastics, and construction materials) are now substituting less toxic chromium products for Cr6. OSHA also has standards for the use and occupational exposure of Cr6. OSHA has determined that a PEL of 5 micrograms per cubic meter over an 8 hour time span is the lowest level that is economically and technologically feasible for industries that involve Cr6. All workplaces that are impacted by this standard are required to have a Cr6 safety program, including education and training for all employees.

  1. To Protect Employees from Cr6 Exposure:
  • Exposure to Cr6 at workplace must be 5 micrograms or less per cubic meter of air over an eight hour time-weight.
  • Periodic monitoring must be conducted at least every six months.
  • Appropriate PPE must be provided, as required.
  • Good personal hygiene and housekeeping practices should be implemented.
  • Employees may not be rotated as a method for achieving compliance with set exposure limits.
  • Respiratory protection must be provided in compliance with OSHA standards.
  • Medical examinations must be conducted at the workplace.
  • Employees must be trained to follow safe practices when using Cr6.
  • Employees must wash hands and face before eating, drinking, or smoking.
  • All contaminated clothing must be removed before entering designated eating areas.
  • HEPA filter vacuums should be used to keep surfaces clean.
  • Eye wash areas must be located
  • Provide respiratory protection as standard required.
  • Medical examination must be conducted at workplace.
  • Train your employees to follow safe practice for using Cr6.
  • Employee must wear required PPE.
  • Wash face and hand before eating or drinking or using toilet.
  • Contaminated clothing must be removed before entering at designated eating area.
  • Use HEPA filter vacuum to keep surface clean.
  • An eye wash area must be located near the work area. If Cr6 comes into contact with eyes employees should flush them out for at least 15 minutes with a steady stream of water.
  • In case of skin contact, wash skin immediately with soap and water.
  • In case of inhalation, effected person must move to fresh air and seek immediate medical attention.