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Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Hexavalent Chromium and the New OSHA Cr(VI) Standard


What is hexavalent chromium?
Hexavalent Chromium Cr(VI) is a metal particle that can occur naturally in rocks but is most commonly produced by industrial process. It has the ability to gain electrons from other elements (a strong oxidizer) which means it can react easily with other elements. Because of its ability to react with other elements it can produce hard coatings, which is why it is used in paints for cars, boats and airplanes.

What type of contaminant is hexavalent chromium?
Hexavalent Chromium Cr(VI) is a metal particle. It can be filtered with an N95 filter or an R or P95 filter if oil mist is present.

What Cr(VI) exposures are covered in the standard?
Cr(VI) exposures from any source are covered except exposures from:

  1. Portland cement
  2. Application of regulated pesticides, such as treatment of wood with pesticides. Exposures resulting from sawing or sanding treated wood are covered by the standard
  3. Where employer has objective data demonstrating that a material containing chromium or a specific process, operation, or activity involving chromium cannot release dusts, fumes, or mists of chromium (VI) in concentrations at or above 5 µg/m3 as an eight-hour TWA under any expected conditions of use.

What are the main industries affected?
The primary industries affected, according to OSHA, are Stainless Steel Fabrication, Heavy Duty Coatings and Paints (Automobiles, Train Cars, Airplanes, Boats, Ships), electroplating and producers of chrome-based pigments.

Click here for an extensive list of Questions & Answers [PDF 174 KB].


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