MAC: Mines and Communities

California Curbs Emissions from Chrome Plating Process

Published by MAC on 2006-12-08

California Curbs Emissions from Chrome Plating Process


8th December 2006

The California Air Resources Board, ARB, Thursday adopted new regulations that will reduce emissions of hexavalent chromium, a carcinogen released during the chrome plating and anodizing processes.

Identified by the ARB as a toxic air contaminant in 1986, hexavalent chromium is a known human carcinogen with no known level of exposure considered safe. It is one of the most toxic chemicals ARB has identified.

Inhalation of hexavalent chromium in the workplace causes lung and nasal cancers, respiratory irritation, nasal and skin ulcerations and lesions, perforation of the nasal septum, and allergic reactions including dermatitis and asthma.

"Hexavalent chromium is an especially potent toxic air contaminant so the measures the board adopted are very stringent," said ARB Chairman Dr. Robert Sawyer. "This issue is especially important to the communities near these businesses."

The regulations require that chrome plating or anodizing businesses reduce their hexavalent chromium emissions to the fullest extent achievable by technology.

New businesses will not be allowed to operate within 1,000 feet of residential or mixed use areas. All currently operating businesses will be required to apply emission controls that ensure maximum cancer risk reduction.

In addition, all facilities must implement housekeeping measures to diminish contaminated dust.

Employees responsible for compliance with California's regulation must attend ARB staff-conducted training every two years. And the regulation contains provisions that prohibit the sale of electroplating equipment to untrained people. Once implemented, cancer risks near chrome plating businesses would be reduced by up to 85 percent, according to the ARB.

These regulations are in addition to other ARB hexavalent chromium control measures. Earlier the ARB addressed chrome plating and chromic acid anodizing in 1988 and 1998, cooling towers in 1989, motor vehicle and mobile equipment-coating in 2001, and thermal spraying in 2004.

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