-- The Home Page of the Finishing Industry

on this site
current topics

World's most popular finishing site / Internet's friendliest corner

topic 32578

Chrome plating mist /fume control: PFOS, fume suppressants, surface tension reducers

A discussion started in 2004 but continuing through 2019


Q. Dear all,

I work for a plating shop and currently we are facing problems with the fume suppressant. In detail we have used fume suppressants in a hard chrome bath from two different suppliers, one of which is a major international chemicals company. Both liquids do not perform as good as expected. For example, after no more than 14 hours of operation everything near the bath is full of this dark red/brown chrome layer. If you leave a white page of paper in the afternoon on a table 2 m from the bath, next day it has become brown.

Should you have any suggestions, please reply.

Thank you in advance.

Christos Sigalas
- Athens, Attica, Greece


A. Personally, I don't feel that fume suppressant is an adequate substitute for an exhaust ventilation system. But try dropping the solution level in the chrome tank to whatever extent is possible as well -- it can make a very big difference. I once visited a plant that had been built with very deep tanks for vertically chrome plating navel gun barrels. When they no longer processed parts that long, they decided to drop the solution level to about 36 inches. Without fume suppressants or a ventilation system, they had no detectable chrome emissions! Apparently, in the absence of drafts, the chrome mists fell back into the tank before rising 36 inches. 36" freeboard is impractical for most shops, but I think it indicates that every inch of freeboard makes a big difference in emissions.

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha


A. Hi Christos,

What Ted said about ventilation hit the nail on the head ...and yes, the lip of the tank should be min. 6" (sorry, I forgot ... 15 cm!) from the liquid level.

I have seen very poorly designed fume hoods inefficiently exhausting a chrome tank but with the addition of some surfactants, they became 'efficient' !

If this Atotech material works that efficiently, ... doesn't cause any side effects, is reasonably priced, then it will prove a huge benefit to platers.

But as a typical Doubting Thomas, me thinks it ain't so.

freeman newton portrait
Freeman Newton
White Rock, British Columbia, Canada

(It is our sad duty to
advise that Freeman passed away
April 21, 2012. R.I.P. old friend).


A. I tend to disagree & agree with Ted. Fume suppressants (foam blankets) are not very effective and short lived however, surface tension reducers are very effective in eliminating chrome mist and spray (as has been proven in several tests by U.S. EPA If you are using one of the modern fume suppressants/surface tension reducers check to see if your surface tension is below 45 dynes ( I prefer 35). This may be done with some accuracy using a relatively inexpensive piece of glassware called a stalagmometer.

Gene Packman
process supplier - Great Neck, New York


A. We have used a fume suppressant for ten years, and it works very well. There are no fumes you can see or smell, and there are no chrome stains on or near the tanks. The one we use is available from Atotech USA.

jeffrey holmes
Jeffrey Holmes, CEF
Spartanburg, South Carolina


Thanks, Jeffrey. To be clear, you do hard chrome plating with no local exhaust on the tank, and do not have an unusually low solution level in the tank, and need nothing but fume suppressant for control? I worked for M&T Chemicals and Harshaw Chemical Co., the two components of Atotech, and am happy but a bit surprised that the development efforts were that successful! If you are at liberty to say, do you use conventional sulfuric catalyzed, fluoride, or high efficiency etch free chrome?

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha


A. Ted: Our chrome bath is sulfuric/boric acid catalyzed, no fluoride. approx. 32 oz/gal, solution level 4" from top. No ventilation of any kind. We have done 8-hour employee air monitoring with no Cr+6 detected. Also installed a temporary exhaust system, no scrubber, just a blower and ductwork, and passed the Cr emission test by a factor of 10. You can lay a white paper on the anode/cathode bars, and no yellow stain @ 2000 amps. The product is Fumetrol 140. Worth it's weight in gold, which is almost what it costs.

jeffrey holmes
Jeffrey Holmes, CEF
Spartanburg, South Carolina


thumbs up signThanks Jeff! We're never too old to learn.

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha


A. I have had the same results as Jeffrey in our shop.

Ted it has nothing to do with you or being too old to learn. The problem is companies want to keep on selling scrubbers, regulators want more regulations, and a plating society was willing to go along for the ride. Scrubbers were embraced, surface tension reducing agents were shunned. It was an excellent job as people to this day will denounce surface tension reducing agents.

Todd Osmolski
- Charlotte, North Carolina, USA


thumbs up signDear friends,

Thank you all for responding. In fact, one of the two products I mentioned is Fumetrol 140!

We do use an exhaust system and the space above the solution level is about 30 to 40 cm.

Well, the problem probably seems to be that the filters of the exhaust system, which is situated at the basement of the shop (under the bath), have to be changed more often because they were blocked.

Anyway, thanks again, pretty interesting discussion.

Chris Sigalas
- Athens, Greece



Q. Is there a good combination of F/S, and surface reducing agents. I have 10" of freeboard, use Fumetrol 208 and have an exhaust system. After a night load I get the "Red Mist" on all my bars. Tried the balls, sank. thanks

Jamie Corbeil
hard chroming - North Bay, Ontario, Canada


A. Jamie,

If memory serves me correct Fumetrol 208 is a cost engineered product that contains less of the surface tension reducer and more surfactant. Switch to a product which is mostly surface tension reducer. These are relatively quite expensive ($85-160 U.S. depending upon vendor/manufacturer) but are based on fluorocarbon technology.

Gene Packman
process supplier - Great Neck, New York

Update on PFOS, etc.


Q. Hello

I work as an environmental engineer for a customer, operating a traditional hard chrome plating line. At this moment, he uses a mist suppressant based on PFOS (a fluorinated compound). Products based on PFOS will be either banned or heavily regulated in Europe.

We are comparing two options:
- stop using mist suppressants and build a expensive exhaust system for evacuation of the chromic acid mist
- continue to use PFOS, but remove the PFOS from rinsing water before (or right after) the sulphite treatment (conversion of Cr(VI) to harmless Cr(III)).

Does anyone have experience with removal techniques for PFOS. For example: does active carbon adsorption work ? (We found out that 3M uses active carbon to remove PFOS from polluted ground water, but does it work on highly acid rinsing waters ?) Suggestions and ideas are most welcome.



A. If it is possible, what I would do is plan for a large amount of freeboard plus the exhaust system. Chromium mist droplets are heavy, and with extravagant freeboard much of the chrome will fall back into the tank and not need to be exhausted.

We're going through the same issue in the USA. With only a little exaggeration, EPA no sooner claimed that chrome MACT standards were achievable and affordable through the use of fume suppressants than it began banning them. But PFOS and related cheicals are getting scary as we see them directly causing androgyny in fish :-(

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha


A. Hi Bert,

What Ted said about banning suppressants is news to me ... but his remarks about 'freeboard' are interesting ... I used to think that a 6" (sorry! 15 cm) freeboard was OK.

On the subject of, you say, an expensive exhaust system ...
why expensive?

Welded mild steel ducting and hoods. Anyhow, go into the library for more data on that.

POLLUTION ... Back in the early 80's, the allowable specs for chrome in B.C. were ll grains/l000 cfm of chrome sulphuric acid. Using a well designed (and made) ordinary 2 stage PVC mist eliminator, horizontal design with sine curved blades, tests indicated that these were 30 times LOWER than the then acceptable limits.This is a l2 micron eliminator...but in your terminology that is 0.7 mg/M3

My 1974 design followed that route but was a good 3 micron inertial scrubber.

Freeman Newton
Freeman Newton
White Rock, British Columbia, Canada


Q. Ted, Freeman,

Thanks for the input.

Increasing the freeboard is a nice idea; in this particular case, the freeboard can be increased by ~25 cm (some 10") just by lowering the level of the tank.

Also thanks for confirming that a well designed mist eliminator will do the job. (This still leaves us with the cost of a new exhaust system).

Does anyone has experience with e.g. ACTIVE CARBON ADSORPTION of the chlorinated mist suppressors ?

Best regards


- Gent, Belgium


A. Activated carbon might work. But, frequently, charged ions like the salts of anionic surfactants have a higher affinity for anionic ion exchange resins. These compounds are going to be even more acidic than non-fluorinated surfactants of this type and will only be present as the free acid at very low pH values.

dave wichern
Dave Wichern
Consultant - The Bronx, New York


Q. What is the status of chrome plating fume suppressants / mist suppressants that do not contain PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate) or fluorinated surfactants?
Are they available?
what is their performance like?
What surfactants are they based on?
what are their strengths and weaknesses.
Is anyone using one and willing to share their experience with it.

A MN plater was identified as the primary source of PFOS going through a medium sized POTW, causing the POTW effluent to exceed a "health based value" set by the state health department.

As a result there is some interest on the part of local platers to begin looking at alternatives if they exist.

Karl DeWahl
resource to the MN metal finishing industry - Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA


A. Based on the usage of the fluorinated products, I can't figure out how so much got to the POTW that the POTW was high!

Gene Packman
process supplier - Great Neck, New York


Q. We are talking very small amounts here.
The health department standard is 75 ppt for PFOS.
The POTW effluent was 12 times higher than that.
There was no attenuation in the POTW, and the plating shop effluent was 58 time higher than the POTW effluent.

All this is based on a relatively few samples.

Karl DeWahl
MnTAP / University of Minnesota - Minneapolis, Minnesota USA


A. Since this product is getting into the effluent via drag out from the plating solution, the most effective way to limit this is to reduce the drag out in the plating facility by implementing waste reduction methodology.

Gene Packman
process supplier - Great Neck, New York

November 6, 2010

Q. We know wetting agent in Bright Nickel is SLES (sodium lauryl ester sulphate),
Can we use it in bath of Chrome plating as wetting agent?
Thank you, Good luck

plating shop employee - ARAK, IRAN

November 9, 2010

A. Nope, chrome solutions would destroy that in no time. If you use surface tension reducers in your chrome bath, you need the ones that are specifically designed for chrome plating. The chemical suppliers that offer these additives have spent big bucks on R&D to solve this particular issue for you, so the additives are expensive. Until recently most suppliers offered PFOS or similar compounds, but those chemicals are becoming banned, so they are now offering brand new proprietary additives.

Jon Barrows
Jon Barrows, MSF, EHSSC
Springfield, Missouri

January 4, 2011

A. We were just asked by the Air Quality folks to lower the emissions of our chromic acid anodizing tank. We are looking into some of the Fumetrol products. I see that they have a new product that is PFOS-free.

Kevin Clark
Aerospace - Monrovia, California, USA

April 7, 2011

Q. What is the best way to stop evaporation from my chrome plating tanks? If it is to be purchased, where do I get the product?

Dave Kiminki
plating shop - Dallas, Texas

April 10, 2011

A. Hi, Dave.
Evaporation, per se, from a chrome plating tank is usually considered good rather than bad as it allows the return of some chrome-contaminated dragout.

The normal problem is chrome fumes or mists evolving from the tank which should not be confused with evaporation. These can be addressed with a lowered solution level in the tank, wetting agents, and fume suppressants. Some people use "chroffles" (polypropylene ping pong balls), but I am not convinced they are worth the effort.

You might also see about a special membrane cover which purportedly allows hydrogen and oxygen to escape from chrome plating tanks while containing the chrome fumes. Good luck.

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

December 28, 2011

Q. According to ASTM D 1331, you must calculate the correcting factor F, when using a tensiometer. How do I obtain the value of "d", which is defined as the "density of air saturated with vapor of the liquid"?

The ASTM spec says the value of "d" can be obtained from published data, but I have not found anyone who knows this data or how to get it?

This is in regards to decorative chrome solutions.

Thank you, Jeremy.

Jeremy Horn
- Portland, Oregon, USA

January 4, 2012

A. You might have better luck using a stalagmometer. There are several companies that sell this instrument and I'm sure they could provide you with a procedure that would work for you. Tensiometers are a big pain to use because there are many sources for error. And as for a literature source, I would check the International Critical Tables for a value, it might be in there.

Aimee Longacre
- Savannah, Georgia, USA

March 4, 2013 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. Dear sir,
Which chemical is used to control the hydrogen gas in hard chrome plating? Please suggest to me. I use Mistolin but it is not working truly and its price is very high. Please tell me about other chemicals which are used to control the hydrogen gas.

Narendra parmar
hardchrome electroplater - vadodara,gujrat,india.

April 4, 2013

Q. I support the Plating Shops at a Naval aircraft overhaul facility in Jacksonville, Florida. While researching ways to reduce chromium air emissions (due to misting), I found this page. The first response is Ted Mooney's:

". . . try dropping the solution level in the chrome tank to whatever extent is possible as well -- it can make a very big difference. I once visited a plant that had been built with very deep tanks for vertically chrome plating naval gun barrels. When they no longer processed parts that long, they decided to drop the solution level to about 36 inches. Without fume suppressants or a ventilation system, they had no detectable chrome emissions! Apparently, in the absence of drafts, the chrome mists fell back into the tank before rising 36 inches. 36" freeboard is impractical for most shops, but I think it indicates that every inch of freeboard makes a big difference in emissions."

Can anyone provide more information about the plant mentioned above that implemented this change? Could you give any POCs there that may be able to answer questions about what they did and how their EPA- and Permit-types reacted?

Our hard chrome workload has changed to primarily small parts, possibly allowing us to get away with lowering the solution levels in our 8-foot deep tanks to give the ~36-inch freeboard. And possibly eliminate/reduce the costs and problems with our chrome scrubber system.

Can anyone offer advice or suggestions about any of this? Has anyone other than the above plant implemented such a change? If so, what were your results?


Bob Vines
Plating Shop Process Engineer - Jacksonville, Florida, United States

April 4, 2013

A. Hi Bob. It was a very long time ago, mid 1970s, and I was not involved in the chrome fume control. I was visiting on another matter but inquired when I noted the very low solution level. One of the plant's engineers explained the situation and demonstrated it by holding a white handkerchief over the tank. But I have no data or history on it. I sent you the name of the shop in private.


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

November 11, 2016

Q. We use Fumetrol Suppressant from Atotech but the fumes are not getting reduced many times.
Any other options available to reduce the fumes?
Please let me know?
Our current levels are between 2800 to 3200 Amps

Ram Rajasekharan
Plating shop manager - India

November 16, 2016

A. Good day Ram.

Have you checked for surface tension with a stalagmometer?


Eric Bogner, Lab. Tech
Aerotek Mfg. Ltd. - Whitby, Ontario, Canada

April 26, 2018

A. The most common and reliable alternative to any fume or mist suppressant is a well designed Local Exhaust Ventilation system integrated with smart tank covers that completely capture and control the mist/fumes, reduce heat loss, reduce evaporation, and most importantly reduce your electrical bill! With the banning of PFAS>PFOS>PFOA based fume suppressants, many forward thinking operations already rely on these systems, which can completely pay for their initial investment over a period of only a few years through proven energy savings. Over a 25 year life-cycle of the equipment, smart tank covers will have save hundreds of thousands of dollars in medium to large process line operational costs.

Kyle Hankinson
- Forest City, North Carolina, USA

April 6, 2019

Q. Dear expert, I have a Nickel Hard Chrome Plating shop. During process for collection of Chromium fumes on Hard Chrome tanks provided suction duct & connect to F.T.D. (Fume Treatment Device with Water spray). I would like to know:
1) How to reuse (or what is process of reuse) waste chrome which is collected in FTD unit?
2) How to minimize/control waste chrome?
a) Density of waste chrome is near about 55 - 60 Deg Baumé.
b) Impurity level is high.
c) Chrome solution is like slurry base.

Mr. Rajkamal Pathare
- Aurangabad, Maharashtra State, India.

April 2019

A. Hi Rajkamal. We attached your inquiry to a fairly long thread on the topic because there aren't easy answers, there are only balancing acts :-)
1. Re-use might be possible by replacing evaporation losses in the chrome tank with recirc water from the fume scrubber ... but more efficient fume scrubbing results from including sodium metabisulfite in the recirculating water to convert the hex chrome to tri chrome, and that would render it non-reuseable.
2. More freeboard, tank covers, and use of fume suppressants minimizes the waste, but fume suppressant can be an environmental problem itself. If 'impurity level is high' what are the impurities? Sorry, I don't know what you mean by "like slurry base"."


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

April 21, 2019

A. Typically, metallic impurities in the washdown solution are very high, and the chromic acid concentration is also very high. Provided that there is enough evaporation from the chromium plating tank, the washdown solution can be returned to the plating tank, but purification to first remove metallic impurities is recommended. Ion exchange is one method, but the life of the resin is short.

One-time use of the resin is a possibility. One liter of resin will remove about 2 equivalents of metal impurities. Unfortunately, trivalent chromium is also removed and it would be better to oxidize the trivalent chromium back to hexavalent before purification, or to use a membrane cell to re-oxidize and also remove impurities.

Lyle Kirman
consultant - Cleveland, Ohio

Q, A, or Comment on THIS thread SEARCH for Threads about ... My Topic Not Found: Start NEW Thread

Disclaimer: It's not possible to diagnose a finishing problem or the hazards of an operation via these pages. All information presented is for general reference and does not represent a professional opinion nor the policy of an author's employer. The internet is largely anonymous & unvetted; some names may be fictitious and some recommendations may be deliberately harmful.

  If you need a product/service, please check these Directories:

JobshopsCapital Equip. & Install'nChemicals & Consumables Consult'g, Train'g, SoftwareEnvironmental Compliance

©1995-2019, Inc., Pine Beach, NJ   -   About   -  Privacy Policy
How Google uses data when you visit this site.