Compliance to safety standards and regulations is now commonplace when doing business in the leather supply chain and the control of chrome VI in leather is coming under increasing pressure with the EU wide restriction on the presence of chrome VI in leather articles entering into force in May 2015.
Trivalent chromium – Chrome 3 – Cr3 – Cr III
Chromium III sulphate is completely safe to use in leather manufacture. Chrome III salts when sourced from reputable companies and when used appropriately and with best practice will produce leather with minimal risk of chrome VI.
Hexavalent chromium – Chrome 6 – Cr 6 – Cr VI
Hexavalent chromium VI is the hazardous form of this element. Chrome III can convert to chrome VI under specific conditions. The factors that influence this are the presence of “oxidising agents” (either oxygen or chemical), chemical conditions e.g.: pH and temperature (higher temperature increases the chance of chemical reactions) and the tanning process / process chemicals used.
What are the risks of Chrome VI?
Chrome VI is recognized as a human carcinogen when it is inhaled. Other adverse health effects associated with Chrome VI exposure, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), include skin irritation or allergic contact dermatitis,
An EU wide restriction on Chrome VI in leather articles will enter into force on 1st May 2015. This prohibits the placing on the market of leather articles and articles containing leather parts if the content of chromium VI is equal to or greater than 3 mg/kg of the total dry weight of leather in the leather article or the leather parts. The restriction will apply to leather parts that under normal or foreseeable use come into contact with the skin.