Combating hexavalent chromium exposure in the workplace

osha-inspectionOSHA recently issued two news releases regarding companies who exposed their workers to unsafe levels of hexavalent chromium fume – a known human carcinogen.

Both companies received 8 serious health violations – violations where there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

In total OSHA is proposing $85,120 in fines (Company A: $42,000; Company B $43,120).

It shouldn’t take an inspection or citation for employers to protect their workers; preemptive, preventative measures are the way to go in the long run.


Hexavalent chromium – or Cr(IV) – is primarily produced by an industrial process. Exposure to its fume and dust has been linked to an increased risk in lung cancer.

Common processes that produce Cr(IV) fume/dust:

  • Stainless steel hot work (i.e. cast, welded, or plasma torch cut)
  • Electroplating
  • Auto body Repair
  • Leather tanning
  • Handling or removing dyes, pigments, paints and anti-corrosion coatings containing chromium compounds
  • Wood preservatives

If not adequately ventilated or filtered, Cr(IV) dust, mist and fume can be inhaled by workers.

UntitledExposure to Cr(IV) fume has shown to affect the eyes, skin, lungs, and respiratory system. In fact – multiple health and safety agencies classify Cr(IV) fume as a known human carcinogen; with higher rates of lung cancer in those who are exposed in the workplace. OSHA has strict exposure limits in place to help protect workers from this fume. In 2010, OSHA released their National Emphasis Program – Hexavalent Chromium in efforts to identify and reduce or eliminate the health hazards associated with occupational exposure to hexavalent chromium and other toxic substances often found in conjunction with Cr(IV).

Proper ventilation measures should be used in order to protect these workers.

Ventilation strategies

Secondary engineering safety controls are often recommended by OSHA and NIOSH in the event that face/respiratory masks/protection fail or are not worn properly.

Secondary engineering safety controls works to contain the fume from spreading throughout the entire area and filter the fume before workers can breathe it in.

Sentry Air Systems, Inc. has an extensive line of secondary engineering safety controls for Cr(IV) applications that are equipped with filtration media that has been stringently tested and proven effective against harmful hex chrome fume.

Our cleanable and non-cleanable filter media test reports are located on our website.

We also posted a video of the industrial hygienist who conducted one of the Cr(IV) tests to our YouTube channel.

hex chrome extractorsBy investing in proper ventilation and air quality equipment now, you are reducing chances of exceeding exposure limits and are better protecting the health and safety of your workforce.

Not only that, but there is evidence that good indoor air quality helps promote a happy, productive work environment. When there is the absence of fume and other noxious odors, workers are less likely to complain of headaches or feel the need to take multiple breaks in order to get fresh air.

Contact Us

If you are interested in utilizing secondary engineering safety controls in your workplace, give Sentry Air a call. Our technical applications specialists would be happy to discuss your application and send you a free quote. Visit our website, call our office 800.799.4609, email or fill out the feedback form below.


OSHA Fact Sheet – Health Effects of Hexavalent Chromium

Oregon OSHA Fact Sheet – Hexavalent Chromium