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Chromium (VI) (Hexavalent Chromium)

General Description

Synonyms: Chromium VI; Hexavalent chromium; Cr(VI)

OSHA IMIS code: 0689

CAS number(s): 18540-29-9 (hexavalent chromium); 1333-82-0 [chromium (VI) oxide]; chromium [7440-47-3]

Monitoring Methods used by OSHA

Three OSHA sampling and analytical methods for Cr (VI) are cited below:

Primary Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method:
  • low ash 37-mm or 25-mm pvc filter in polystyrene cassette
  • Do not use the preweighed custom-made cassettes with the aluminum cone that are intended for gravimetric sampling.
  • Chromium plating samples can be collected on either PVC filters or on quartz fiber filters coated with sodium hydroxide. The coated quartz fiber filters are preferred for sample stability for chromium plating.
  • CAUTION: Do not use the coated quartz fiber filters for any operation other than chromium plating.
  • recommended maximum volume: 960 L (TWA)
  • recommended minimum volume: 200 L (TWA)
  • recommended maximum flow rate: 2 L/min (TWA)
  • current analytical method: ion chromatography; IC/UV
  • analytical solvent: carbonate/bicarbonate buffer
  • method reference: OSHA ID-215 (version 2) (fully validated)
  • note: Chromium plating samples collected on PVC filters must be shipped to the OSHA-Salt Lake Technical Center (SLTC) within 24 hours of sampling by overnight delivery. These samples must be stabilized by laboratory personnel as described in Section 2 of OSHA ID-215 (version 2).
  • note: Welding samples must be shipped to the OSHA-Salt Lake Technical Center within 24 hours of sampling by overnight delivery.
  • note: OSHA CSHOs should obtain low-background PVC filters and quartz fiber filters coated with sodium hydroxide from the OSHA-Salt Lake Technical Center (SLTC) to sample hexavalent chromium.
Wipe Sampling Method:
  • 37-mm pvc filter or 37-mm binderless quartz fiber filters
  • method reference: OSHA W4001 (fully validated)
  • note: Wipe samples taken in chromium plating and welding operations should be shipped to the OSHA-Salt Lake Technical Center (SLTC) within 24 hours after sampling by overnight delivery. Chromium plating samples collected on PVC filters must be stabilized by laboratory personnel as described in Section 2 of W4001.
Bulk Sampling Method:
  • solids require approximately 10 grams, liquids 10 mL; place in 20-mL glass vials with PTFE-lined caps
  • method reference: OSHA ID-215
  • note: Collect samples wearing protective gloves, such as nitrile or PVC. Ship bulk samples to analytical laboratory separately from wipe or air samples. Ship by overnight delivery if that delivery service was used for the associated air samples.

Exposure Limits and Health Effects (Updated September 6, 2012)

Standard Set By Exposure Limit Health Effect Codes -- Health Effects and Target Organs

OSHA PEL - General Industry
See 29 CFR 1910.1026 Chromium (VI)

Note: OSHA's standard applies to occupational exposures to any chromium species with a valence of positive six, regardless of form or compound.

5.0 μg/m3 TWA
2.5 μg/m3 TWA Action Level
HE1 -- cancer (lung, nasopharynx, oropharynx, nasal passages)
HE14 -- eye irritation and skin sensitization
OSHA PEL - Construction Industry
See 29 CFR 1926.1126 Chromium (VI)
5.0 μg/m3 TWA
2.5 μg/m3 TWA Action Level
HE1 -- cancer (lung, nasopharynx, oropharynx, nasal passages)
HE14 -- eye irritation and skin sensitization
OSHA PEL - Shipyard Employment
See 29 CFR 1915.1026 Chromium (VI)
5.0 μg/m3 TWA
2.5 μg/m3 TWA Action Level
HE1 -- cancer (lung, nasopharynx, oropharynx, nasal passages)
HE14 -- eye irritation and skin sensitization
NIOSH REL (applies to all Cr(VI) compounds) 0.0002 mg/m3 (8 hr TWA)
See Appendix A and Appendix C
HE1 -- lung cancer
HE3 -- liver damage, with jaundice; blood changes, including leukocytosis, leukopenia, and eosinophilia; erosion and discoloration of teeth
HE4 -- eye injury; kidney and stomach damage, causing vomiting and epigastric pain; severe irritation of the nose, throat, bronchial tubes, and lungs
HE9 -- asthmatic bronchitis
HE11 -- lung damage, including pulmonary congestion and edema
HE14 -- dermatitis, skin ulceration, nasal mucosa irritation and ulceration, nasal septum perforation, eardrum perforation, conjunctivitis
ACGIH TLV® (1991) 0.05 mg/m3 (water-soluble Cr(VI) compounds, as Cr) TWA
A1
BEI®
HE1 -- lung cancer
HE14 -- respiratory irritation, dermatitis
0.01 mg/m3(insoluble Cr(VI) compounds, as Cr) TWA HE1 -- lung cancer
HE14 -- respiratory irritation, dermatitis
CAL/OSHA PELs

See also Sections 1532.25206, and 8359

0.005 mg/m3 TWA 0.1 mg/m3 Ceiling HE8 -- central nervous system depression (severe headache, loss of consciousness, gastric upset, weight loss, slow recovery)

The chromic acid and chromates PEL of 0.1 mg/m3 TWA (see 29 CFR 1910.1000 Table Z-2) applies to any operations or sectors for which the PEL in the chromium (VI) standard (Sections 1910.10261926.1126, or 1915.1026) is stayed or is otherwise not in effect.

Carcinogenic classification:

EPA Inhalation Reference Concentration (RfC): 1x10-4 mg/m3 (particulates); 8x10-6 mg/m3 (aerosol mists)

ATSDR Inhalation Minimal Risk Levels (MRLs): Aerosol mists: 0.000005 mg/m3 (intermediate); 0.000005 mg/m3 (chronic) Particulates: 0.0003 mg/m3 (intermediate)

NIOSH IDLH concentration: Not established

Notes on other potential health effects and hazards:

  1. Recent studies indicate occupational exposure to hexavalent chromium may have genotoxic effects (ATSDR 2008; Zhang et al. 2011; Balachandar et al. 2010).

Partial reference list:

  • ACGIH: Documentation of the Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) and Biological Exposure Indices (BEIs) - Chromium and Inorganic Compounds. 2016.
  • ATSDR: Toxicological profile for chromium. September 2012.
  • Balachandar V, Arun M, Mohana Devi S, Velmurugan P, Manikantan P, Karthick Kumar A, Sasikala K, Venkatesan C.: Evaluation of the genetic alterations in direct and indirect exposures of hexavalent chromium [Cr(VI)] in leather tanning industry workers North Arcot District, South India. Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 83(7):791-801, 2010.
  • NIOSH: Criteria for a Recommended StandardOccupational Exposure to Chromium (VI).
  • NIOSH: Draft Criteria Document Update - Occupational Exposure to Hexavalent Chromium. September 2008.
  • NIOSH/CEC/IPCS: International Chemical Safety CardsChromium (VI) Oxide.
  • OSHA: Occupational Safety and Health Standards - Chromium VI. October 27, 2004.
  • Zhang XH, Zhang X, Wang XC, Jin LF, Yang ZP, Jiang CX, Chen Q, Ren XB, Cao JZ, Wang Q, Zhu YM: Chronic occupational exposure to hexavalent chromium causes DNA damage in electroplating workers. BMC Public Health. 11:224. 2011.

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