About Chromium (organic complexes)
What is Chromium?
Chromium is the first element in Group 6 in the periodic table of elements. The chemical part is a steely-grey metal with the symbol Cr and atomic number 24. It is a tasteless and odorless metallic element found naturally in soil, rock, plants, animals, humans, and volcanic dust. Trivalent chromium and hexavalent chromium are chromium compounds found in natural waters in the environment. The metal is an essential ingredient in stainless steel. It has a lustrous appearance with hard and brittle physical property. The name of the element was derived from the Greek word chroma which means color since most chromium compounds have intense colors. Chromium is highly valued for its ability to resist corrosion and hardness.
Chromium compounds are used in a variety of industries since its discovery in ancient times. The chemical element was initially used as a pigment and eventually as a coating on the bronze tips of ancient weapons. Ferrochromium alloy is a mineral valued for its use in the production of high-quality steel. An essential nutrient in humans for insulin, sugar, and lipid metabolism, the trivalent chromium (Cr(III)) ion is recognized as a non-toxic form of chromium. Hexavalent chromium compounds are toxic and genotoxic carcinogens found in the environment. It can be found in drinking water and public water systems. Drinking chromium 6-contaminated water can cause health effects.
What Types of Industrial Uses Does it Have?
Chromium compounds are mainly used in the creation of metal alloys. 85% of chromium compounds are used in the production of corrosion resistant steel. The other uses for chromium are in the foundry, chemical, and refractory industries. Chromium compounds are also used as magnetic compounds in the manufacturing of magnetic tape. They are also necessary ingredients in the production of the metal polish green rouge. The mineral is a conventional wood preservative and catalyst. It is also used in the tanning of leather materials.
How Does Chromium Get into Your Drinking Water?
Both chromium-3 and chromium-6 are naturally occurring chromium compounds found in the environment from the erosion of rocks with the chromium element and in the soil. They are both present in natural waters and may be found in your drinking water. The toxic hexavalent chromium or chromium-6 may come from chromium production sites through improper waste management, discharges, and the lack of environmental cleanup. The carcinogen can also get into your drinking water when the chemical element is stored poorly in the warehouse of industrial companies near water supply sites.
What are the Health Risks Associated with Chromium in Drinking Water?
Since chromium-3 is an essential nutrient in humans, the chemical compound has a low toxicity level if consumed at low levels of concentration. However, it may be a cause for concern if the levels of concentration of chromium-3 are very high. On the other hand, chromium-6 poses potential health risks due to its toxicity. Chronic exposure to contaminated water may increase the risk of acquiring and experiencing allergic dermatitis. When ingested, the chemical element can be carcinogenic to humans and will likely increase the chances of getting cancer. The carcinogen can cause several adverse health effects including vomiting, abdominal pain, reproductive issues, kidney and liver damages, convulsion, and ulcers. The EPA advises the public to stop the use and drinking of contaminated water until it is reduced to the accepted MCL standard to avoid its health risks.
How Many American Households are Affected by Chromium-6 in Their Drinking Water?
The Environmental Protection Agency or EPA has monitored one of the almost 5,000 public water systems contaminated with a level of chromium in excess of EPA’s standard. Although in low levels, the chemical element is still present in many American households today.
Is Chromium-6 Common in Well Water?
Since the chemical compound is found in natural waters in the environment in plant materials, rocks, and soil, the byproduct of the mineral is quite common in well waters across the country. Private wells near factories using the chemical are prone to leakage and runoff. Since millions of US residents are drinking well water, either from municipal or private sources, there’s a high chance of Americans exposed to chromium-6 in their drinking water. If you rely on your deep well for drinking water, it is essential to check your feed water on a regular basis to avoid ingesting the contaminant.
What is the EPA’s Standards for Chromium in Drinking Water?
Both chromium-3 and chromium-6 are covered in the same EPA standard of 0.1 mg/L or 100 parts per billion. The set rules for the contaminant ensures US residents avoid the potential health risks of drinking the compound in water.
What is the Best Reduction Media for Removing Chromium from Drinking Water?
Reverse Osmosis or RO is an effective water filtration system to remove the contaminant from drinking water. The system is designed to force water through a semipermeable membrane while blocking larger ions such as chromium and other chemical elements from passing through. RO systems in homes or point-of-use systems are capable of removing the pollutant from your feed water.
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Water-soluble, Werner-type chromium complexes of carboxylic acids, which can be used to modify the surface characteristics of many substrates, were developed from the reaction products of chromyl chloride and various organic materials. Typical complexes are Quilon chrome complex (chromium complexes of stearic or myristic acid), used as a water repellent and release agent; Volan (methacrylato chromic chloride), used as a coupling agent in various reinforced plastic laminates; p-aminobenzoato chromic chloride, used as an ultraviolet screener; and p-nitrobenzoato chromic chloride, used as an anti-static agent. The chemistry of chromium complexes of carboxylic acids, methods of manufacture and application, and various uses are discussed.