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Exposure & Controls

Evaluating Exposure

Occupational exposure to hexavalent chromium can occur from inhalation of dusts, mists, or fumes containing hexavalent chromium, or from eye or skin contact. The following references provide information on exposure limits and analytical methods used to evaluate hexavalent chromium exposure. OSHA Cr(VI) standards for general industry (1910.1026), shipyards (1915.1026), and construction (1926.1126) require employers to assess potential employee exposed to chromium (VI).

Exposure Limits

  • Chromium (VI) (Hexavalent Chromium). OSHA Chemical Sampling Information. Includes exposure limits set by OSHA, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) for hexavalent chromium compounds.
  • Hexavalent Chromium (PDF*). OSHA Publication 3373-10, (2009).

OSHA Monitoring and Analytical Methods

  • OSHA has developed and validated methods for use by the Salt Lake Technical Center (SLTC) laboratory. The following methods have been adopted by many laboratories for the analysis of chemical compounds.
    • Hexavalent Chromium. Method W-4001, (2001, April). Describes the procedures for wipe sampling of hexavalent chromium.
    • Hexavalent Chromium in Workplace Atmospheres (PDF). Method ID-215, (1998, June). Describes the sample collection and analysis of airborne hexavalent chromium.
      • For air sampling, the recommended method is ID-215, version 2 (see below). The original June, 1998, method is still listed as it contains sections still applicable for wipe and bulk sampling of materials to analyze for hexavalent chromium.
      • The original June, 1998, method lists a proposed OSHA PEL for Cr(VI) of 0.5 ug/m3 and AL of 0.25 ug/m3, but these were not issued in the final rule [OSHA Federal Register Final Rules 71:10099-10385].
    • Hexavalent Chromium. Method ID-215 (Version 2), (2006, April).

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Methods

  • Chromium, Hexavalent by Ion Chromatography (PDF). Method No. 7605, (2003, March 15). Describes the sample collection and analysis of hexavalent chromium. This method is similar to OSHA Method ID-215.
  • Chromium, Hexavalent by Field-Portable Spectrophotometry (PDF). Method No. 7703, (2003, March 15). Describes Method No. 7703 as a field portable method of analysis of hexavalent chromium.
  • Chromium, Hexavalent, In Settled Dust Samples (PDF). Method No. 9101, (1996, May 15). Describes an estimation of the soluble hexavalent chromium content of settled dust.
  • Chromium, Hexavalent (PDF). Method No. 7600, (1994, August 15). Describes sampling and analysis of airborne hexavalent chromium.
  • Chromium, Hexavalent. Method No. 7604, (1994, August 15). Indicates this method is less sensitive than method 7600 (colorimetric), but it contains fewer sample preparation steps.
Controlling Exposure

OSHA Cr(VI) standards require employers to use feasible engineering and work practice controls to reduce and maintain employee exposures at or below the permissible exposure limit (PEL). Wherever feasible engineering and work practice controls are not sufficient to reduce employee exposure to or below the PEL, the employer must use such controls to reduce employee exposure to the lowest levels achievable, then supplement with respiratory protection and, in general industry, establish a regulated area to warn employees and limit access. Where a hazard is present or is likely to be present from skin or eye contact with Cr(VI) the employer must provide appropriate personal protective clothing and equipment. The Cr(VI) standards addresses other protective measures related to Cr(VI) exposure, including hygiene areas and practices, housekeeping and cleaning methods, medical surveillance, and employee information and training.

The following references provide possible solutions for hexavalent chromium hazards in the workplace.

  • Hexavalent Chromium (PDF*). OSHA Publication 3373-10, (2009).
  • Small Entity Compliance Guide for the Hexavalent Chromium Standards (PDF*). OSHA Publication 3320, (2006). Includes guidance on regulated areas, methods of control, respiratory protection, protective work clothing and equipment, hygiene areas and practices, housekeeping, medical surveillance, communication of hazards to employees, recordkeeping covered by the new standards and an extensive appendix of industry operations or processes associated with occupational exposure to Cr(VI).
  • Hexavalent Chromium. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Workplace Safety and Health Topic. Includes NIOSH comments in response to OSHA's request for Information, NIOSH databases, resources, health hazard evaluations and other related safety and health topics.
  • Preventing Skin Problems from Working with Portland Cement. OSHA, (2008). Employees may be exposed to dermal hazards when working with wet cement (due to its caustic nature). The effects of skin exposure to wet cement include cement burns and inflammation of the skin (either due to irritant or allergic contact dermatitis). This guidance addresses ways to prevent or minimize skin problems through the proper selection and use of gloves, boots and other personal protective equipment such as kneepads; proper skin care and work practices such as use of pH neutral or slightly acidic soaps; and ways of making cement products less hazardous.
  • Surface Finishing Safe Work Practices Manual (PDF*). OSHA and National Association for Surface Finishing (NASF) Alliance, (2009, October). Provides practical information on industry recommended work practices to improve safety and health in metal surface finishing facilities. The purpose of these work practices is to identify potential hazards associated with metal finishing operations and the precautions that should be adopted for the safety and health of all personnel involved in these processes.

Welding

  • Felker Brothers Corporation, Marshfield (PDF). National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Report No. HETA 2003-0114-2924, (2004, January), Evaluation of worker exposures to chromium and other metals during manufacture of stainless steel products and fabricated piping systems.

Electroplating

Auto Body Repair

  • Quick Card: Hexavalent Chromium - Automotive Collision Repair Industry (PDF*). OSHA and Coordinating Committee for Auto Repair (CCAR) Alliance, (2009, January). Provides employees in the automotive collision repair industry with precautions that must be taken when refinishing motor vehicle parts.
  • Control of Dusts From Sanding in Autobody Repair Shops (PDF). US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 96-105.
  • Control of Paint Overspray in Autobody Repair Shops (PDF). US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 96-106.
  • In-Depth Survey Report: Control Technology for Autobody Repair and Painting Shops at Team Chevrolet Colorado Springs, Colorado. US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Report ECTB 179-18a, (1993, December). Evaluates the ability of three cross draft spray painting booths to control exposure to air contaminants, including chromium.
  • In-Depth Survey Report: Control Technology for Autobody Repair and Painting Shops at Cincinnati Collision Autobody Shop. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Report ECTB 179-16a, (1993, September). Evaluates the ability of several types of equipment to reduce worker exposure to air contaminants, including chromium.
  • Control technology for Autobody Repair and Painting Shops at Kay Parks/Dan Meyer Autorebuild Tacoma, Washington. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Report ECTB 179-12a, (1992, September). Provides a study of orbital and in-line sanders with built-in high-velocity, low volume exhaust hoods.

For additional information on general safety and health concerns, see OSHA's Safety and Health Topics Page on:

Other Resources

Highlights

Related Safety and Health Topics

Industry Profile (Sector) - Hexavalent Chromium Exposure

Industry Profile (Subcategory) - Hexavalent Chromium Exposure


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