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End of Life Vehicle regulations and Chromates


Q. What is the latest on the European Union's "End of Life Vehicle" standard for Cr6 chromates?

Don Penzenik
- Elkhart, Indiana, USA


A. The End Of Life vehicle directive take effect Jan. 2003. The end result is that all vehicles will have a Cr+6 limit of 2 grams total. The result of that is the highly prevalent zinc and yellow dichromate plating is being replaced with zinc-nickel and in some cases zinc with trivalent chromate conversion. Bright chrome and hard chrome are being allowed up to the 2 gram per vehicle limit. Due to the volume of bright chrome on cars the other hexavalent chromium sources have to be eliminated.

Dale Parks
- Rochester, New York


A. 2 grams per vehicle seems like a very small amount. I know that is what the ELV Directive states - so, for bright decorative chrome it seems like the new vehicles will have very little of it.

Will chrome rims and bumpers and trim be phased out or used very minimally or what? How much will 2 grams go in this aspect? - any idea?

Jeff Gerdon
- Miami, Florida, U.S.A.


A. Without getting too technical about divalent chrome and such, hexavalent chromates on zinc and aluminum get their protective value from the hexavalent chromium gel they leave on the part. You can't leave a hexavalent chromium gel on a part without expecting to find a lot of hexavalent chromium. Thus the switch to trivalent chromates.

But chrome plating is chromium metal (0-valence chrome), not hexavalent chrome, and is not regulated to my knowledge. Because people have been eating off of chrome plated surfaces for decades, I certainly hope and expect that there is no appreciable hexavalent chromium remaining on a well rinsed chrome plated surface. Chrome does tend to stain very badly if there is even a very little amount of chrome plating solution on it, so that helps assure that the parts are well rinsed. Dale may know something I don't, but I don't think there is any limitation on chrome metal.

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