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10 situations in which you are exposed to chromium-6

  1. Sanding of coated surfaces
  2. Abbrasive blasting, sandblasting, iceblasting, glass bead blasting, bristle blasting
  3. Spraying of paint containing chromium-6
  4. Cutting and sawing of coated and/or stainless steel
  5. Grinding from coated areas or stainless steel
  6. Welding of coated surfaces or stainless steel
  7. Chromium plating of metal or plastic surfaces, where chromium-6 compounds are added and these are converted to chromium-0 on the metal or plastic
  8. In wood preservation and handling and contact with preserved wood
  9. Working with cement
  10. Work in/near tanneries and leather processing

What are the consequences of exposure?

In most cases, the process creates dust or mist, which contains chromium-6 salts. Only in a tannery or when working with cement the exposure to chromium-6 goes mainly through the skin.

In contrast, blasting, sanding, cutting or spraying or paint containing chromium-6 is mainly inhalation exposure. At least, if no or insufficient respiratory protection is used. How much chromium-6 ends up in the body differs per route of exposure and per type of chromium-6 salt. For inhalation exposure, the size of the dust or mist particles released into the air also determines how much and how deeply the particles can be inhaled.

Most chromium-6 changes in water to the harmless chromium-3. But when this happens in body cells, damage can occur. The vitamin C in the cell forms chromium salts together with chromium-6. The resulting chromium-3 sticks to nucleic acids and proteins, leading to breaks in the DNA and mutations. If these mutations are not recognised and/or neutralised by the body, they can lead to diseases.

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