Fact Sheet: Chromium

Brief Overview:
Category: Metals
Acceptable Level: 0.1 mg/L MCL, Primary Drinking Water Standards
Follow up:
Natural occurring, Industry
Short and Long-term Health Effects
Test for Chromium, Hexavalent Chromium and other metals
Coagulation/Filtration, Ion Exchange, Lime Softening, Reverse
Source: Chromium is a metal found in natural deposits as ores containing other elements. The greatest use of
chromium is in metal alloys such as stainless steel; protective coatings on metal; magnetic tapes; and pigments for paints,
cement, paper, rubber, composition floor covering and other materials. Its soluable forms are used in wood preservatives.
Production of the most water soluable forms of chromium, the chromate and dichromates, was in the range of 250,000
tons in 1992. Though chromium occurs in nature mostly as chrome iron ore and is widely found in soils and plants, it is
rare in natural waters. The two largest sources of chromium emission in the atmosphere are from the chemical
manufacturing industry and combustion of natural gas, oil, and coal.
From 1987 to 1993, according to the Toxics Release Inventory, chromium compound releases to land and water totalled
nearly 200 million pounds. These releases were primarily from industrial organic chemical industries. The largest direct
releases to water occurred in Georgia and Pennsylvania.
When released to land, chromium compounds bind to soil are not likely to migrate to ground water. They are very
persistent in water as sediments. There is a high potential for accumulation of chromium in aquatic life.
Effect: Short term: EPA has found chromium to potentially cause the following health effects when people are
exposed to it at levels above the MCL for relatively short periods of time: skin irritation or ulceration.
Long term: Chromium has the potential to cause the following effects from a lifetime exposure at levels above the
MCL: damage to liver, kidney circulatory and nerve tissues; skin irritation.
Follow up: Test for hexavalent chromium, treat and re-test for metals.
Treatment: Coagulation/Filtration, Ion Exchange, Lime Softening, Reverse Osmosis
Following installation of this system, the consumer should have the treated water tested for chromium to verify
chromium reduction is being achieved and the system is functioning property.
For more information visit the USEPA website.