Health Effects

Major Health Effects can Include:

Lung Cancer – The primary health effect of concern is lung cancer caused by airborne exposures to hexavalent chromium. Chronic inhalation increases the risk of lung cancer. All Cr(VI) compounds are considered to be carcinogenic.

Nasal Septum Ulcers or perforations – Symptoms from breathing Cr(VI) may include runny nose, sneezing, coughing, itching, and a burning sensation from irritation or damage to the nose, throat, and lung.  In severe cases sores can develop in the nose and result in nosebleeds. Ulcers can develop and with continuous exposure, permanent perforations (holes) in the nasal septum (the wall separating the nasal passages) can occur, as seen in the photo of a worker employed in a chrome plating shop.

Bronchitis or Asthma – In some cases employees become “allergic” and sensitized to hexavalent chromium so that inhaling chromate compounds can cause work-related asthma, such as wheezing and shortness of breath

Skin Affects such as “Chrome Hole” – Chromic acid and alkaline chromate are agents commonly encountered in the tanning and electroplating industries. These substances have a corrosive action when they enter the skin through a minor nick or break in the integument. This results in the formation of chronic, ulcerative lesions known as “chrome holes”.