Chromium is an element existing in several different forms. Metallic chromium is mined for use in steel and other metal products. Many chromium-containing compounds are used for plating, manufacturing paints and dyes, tanning leather and preserving wood.
"Trivalent" chromium is naturally occurring and is essential for good health. The normal intake from eating foods that are high in natural chromium is 70-80 micrograms per day and is considered safe.
The less-toxic forms of chromium are used to make flooring materials, video and audio recording tapes, stainless steel, chrome-plated items and copy machine toner.
"Hexavalent" chromium can occur naturally, but can also be produced by certain industrial processes. It is the most toxic form of chromium, and has been shown to cause lung cancer when workers are exposed to high air levels for long time periods.
This fact sheet summarizes information about this chemical and is not a complete listing of all possible effects. It does not refer to work exposure or emergency situations.