Sweet Solution for Chromium Pollution. ‘Researchers may have found a sugar-coated answer to a toxic waste problem. At a presentation at the semiannual meeting of the American Chemical Society in Chicago, Illinois, a team of chemists reported that a sugar-based solution effectively reduced the threat of the heavy metal chromium, without creating new pollution headaches in the process.
Chromium, like some of its chemical cousins, can be either beneficial or harmful to living things, depending on its form, concentration, and method of absorption. Chromium III, for example, the metal’s natural state, is stable and an essential nutrient. On the other hand, hexavalent chromium – or Cr(VI) – is highly reactive and a potential carcinogen if inhaled or consumed in contaminated fish or polluted water. Used in the manufacturing of videotapes, dyes, paints, and other industrial applications, Cr(VI) achieved notoriety several years ago as the subject of a well-publicized class-action lawsuit in California, which was depicted in the movie Erin Brockovich. Up to now, removing Cr(VI) from the environment has been difficult and messy, requiring treatment with acid and other strong reducing agents, which also can degrade local water quality.’
ATSDR – ToxFAQs: Chromium. ‘This fact sheet answers the most frequently asked health questions about chromium. Exposure to chromium occurs from ingesting contaminated food or drinking water or breathing contaminated workplace air. Chromium(VI) at high levels can damage the nose and can cause cancer. Chromium has been found at 1,036 of the 1,591 National Priority List sites identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).’
OSHA: Hexavalent Chromium Hazard Recognition. ‘Workers in many different occupations are exposed to hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)). Occupational exposures occur mainly among workers who handle pigments containing dry chromate, spray paints and coatings containing chromate, operate chrome plating baths, and weld or cut metals containing chromium, such as stainless steel.’