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Danger in handling chromate coated items?


I'd like to understand if the chromate products used for chromate conversion coating are dangerous for the health only of people handling them during the preparation of the baths and carrying out the process, or also for those that are in contact with the coated items.

In other words, to be in contact with the coated items is a health hazard?

p. cirese
officine galileo - via einstein, 35
50013 campi bisenzio, italia


Your letter has two parts--

1). It implies that chromate products for conversion coating are dangerous to the health of the workers, and I'm not sure that that has been demonstrated. I mean, sure, they are potentially dangerous--just as a boiling pot of water on a stove is potentially dangerous to a homemaker who is cooking dinner, and the gasoline in an automobile is potentially dangerous to the driver. Heck, it is potentially dangerous that a given codfish out in the ocean has bones--some fisherman might catch that particular fish, cook it, and choke on a bone.

There is no question that ingesting, inhaling, or regularly making skin contact with HIGH concentrations of hexavalent chromium is bad for the health. Chrome ulcers and damage to nasal tissue from chrome has been well known since at least 1928.

But I don't think there is yet any real evidence that normal occupational exposure to chromate conversion coatings causes any health problems (I'm not saying it doesn't--I suspect that it does, and hope that employees handling chromated parts are wearing gloves).

2). Most things are concentration sensitive. Even if at some point it is demonstrated that such occupational exposure causes problems, it will not be obvious or a foregone conclusion that the lower exposure that the public experiences is dangerous.

Your question is a very good one, to which I would love to know the answer, and I hope that some researchers are working on it.

Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey


Dear Mr. Ted Mooney,

In response to the question posed by Mr Cirese, would you be kind enough to provide the link to the article written by Mr Pullizzi on this subject. I am trying to find the article where Mr. Pullizzi mentions that there is evidence of our offspring being all male or all female if we handle chromated parts.

I have been a Zinc plater since childhood and have three daughters! Hows that for supporting evidence?


Khozem Vahaanwala
Saify Ind supporting advertiser
Bangalore, Karnataka, India

saify logo


I don't think Tom actually said quite that, Mr. Vahanwala, but here's the link you're referring to.

Funny . . . I have two sons.

I guess that proves that my knowledge of plating is all just "book knowledge", not any real hands-on stuffsmiley.

Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey


If I have well understood, from the reply of Mr.Mooney and the article of Mr. Pullizzi, results that workers in contact with chromated parts, e.g. for assembling, are exposed to a health hazard, at least as regards skin. Mr. Mooney suggests to use gloves.

pasquale cirese
officine galileo - campi bisenzio - italia


I DO suggest that workers wear gloves, both as a matter of prudence about possible heath concerns, and to avoid ugly fingerprints on the work.

But, arghhhh . . . NO we did NOT say that workers in contact with chromated parts are exposed to a health hazard! We said it may be possible that they are, and I thought we made it crystal clear that we think research ought to be done to determine if it really is a health hazard or not.

Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey


The danger to people that use chromated parts is tested by the automotive industry. And yes, the employees wear gloves when assembling the chromated car parts.

These companies have a test using artificial sweet to test the amount of chromium rubbed off the parts. For that reason some automotive companies swiched from zinc alloy chromated parts to e-coat or other finishes with organic polymers.

Sara Michaeli
chemical process supplier
Tel-Aviv, Israel

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