Sources of Toxic Hexavalent Chromium

Hexavalent Chromium or CrVI is a known toxic form of chromium (Cr) which can cause adverse health effects on humans. Known health effects due to exposures to hexavalent chromium include lung cancer, nasal and sinus cancer, irritation of eyes and nose and throat, nasal septum ulcerations and perforations, gastrointestinal ulcers, dermatitis and others.(i)

Hexavalent chromium not only is present in stainless steel welding fumes but also in some paints, anti-corrosion coatings, preservatives and dyes. The following table was obtained from a Fact Sheet from Oregon OSHA (OR-OSHA (10/06) FS-20).(ii)

   Table displaying the sources of hexavalent chromium.

OSHA has established a permissible exposure limit of 5μg/m3 and an action level of 2.5 μg/m3. Both values represent the time weighted average exposure for hexavalent chromium for a typical 8 hour work shift.

The OSHA standard for hexavalent chromium requires that employers, when applicable, perform an initial assessment to determine exposure to hexavalent chromium. Monitoring every six months is required if exposures are found to be at or above the action level (2.5 μg/m3 ) but less than the permissible exposure limit (5 μg/m3 ). Monitoring every three months is required of exposures are found to be above the permissible exposure limit.(iv) Additional monitoring may be required if employers believe that changes in the manufacturing process may increase the employee’s exposure to the agent. For additional requirements of the OSHA standard, please visit OSHA's website.


 (iii)  29 CFR 1910.1026, 29 CFR 1926.1126 and 29 CFR 1915.1026 do not apply to exposures to portland cement.
 (iv)  29 CFR 1910.1026