At the end of this module, you will be able to:
- Describe Chromium
- Identify ways exposure can occur
- Describe health hazards
- Describe how welding operations can present a chromium hazard
- Identify considerations for controlling welding fumes.
- Describe applicable standards
The following key questions are answered in this module:
What is the difference between Chromium and Hexavalent Chromium?
In its natural state, chromium is typically not dangerous to humans. When heated, though, chromium can change form to become hexavalent chromium. Hexavalent chromium can pose serious health risks to workers.
What is it typically used for?
Hexavalent chromium is used in many industrial processes and can often be found in dyes, paints, inks, primers, chrome, and other surface coatings. Hexavalent chromium can also be formed from other forms of chromium during "hot work" procedures, such as welding stainless steel or melting chromium metal.
What are the health hazards of hexavalent chromium?
Hexavalent chromium is toxic. Overexposure can lead to the following signs and symptoms: permanent eye damage, irritation and ulceration of the respiratory tract, nose bleeds, symptoms of asthma, perforation of the nasal septum, skin irritation, dermatitis, ulcers, liver and kidney damage, and lung cancer.
How can you use sample controls for painting and welding to reduce exposure?
Use the following controls to reduce hexavalent chromium exposure while painting and welding. While painting: use a paint that does not include hexavalent chromium, use paint strippers to eliminate airborne exposures, and use ventilated tools. While welding: position your face away from the fumes, when welding outside, position your body with the wind at your back so that the fumes blow away from you, and use adequate ventilation.
Below is a transcript of the video sample provided for this module:
In most cases if airborne concentrations of hexavalent chromium are higher than the permissible exposure limit employers must use engineering and work practice controls to reduce the levels to the PEL or below. An example of an engineering control is the use of ventilation systems to remove hexavalent chromium from the air. An example of work practice control is having welders stand upwind of welding activities that can produce hexavalent chromium. Employers are not allowed to rotate employees to different jobs to comply with the PEL.
Use the additional resources and links below to learn more about this topic:
- U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) – www.osha.gov
- OSHA Safety and Health Topics - https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/hexavalentchromium/index.html
- OSHA Fact Sheet - https://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_General_Facts/hexavalent_chromium.pdf
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) – www.cdc.gov/niosh/
- NIOSH Workplace Safety & Health Topics - http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/hexchrom/