As long as chromium-6 is kept in solid form, it is harmless. But as a dust particle, chromium-6 can cause a variety of disorders in the human body: Alergic and asmatic disorders, skin reactions, including ulcers and eczema, and with repeated exposure serious consequences such as lung cancer, cancer of the nose and sinuses. This is caused by the fact that the metal can easily enter the body’s cells (via the respiratory tract or skin), where it can cause damage to the DNA, among other things.
There are several routes by which chromium 6 eventually ends up in the body. The most studied routes are the following:
- By inhalation: high concentrations of chromium-6 can cause acute damage to lungs and respiratory tract, such as inflammatory reactions accompanied by sore throat, coughing, shortness of breath and pulmonary oedema (accumulation of fluid in the lungs).
- By eye contact: May cause conjunctivitis and corneal clouding and damage.
- Skin contact: may cause skin inflammation, with ulcers.
- Through the oesophagus: if high concentrations of chromium-6 are swallowed, stomach ache and nausea may follow shortly. The substance may also cause vomiting and (bloody) diarrhoea.