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Chromium

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Chromium, 24Cr
Chromium crystals and 1cm3 cube.jpg
Chromium
Appearancesilvery metallic
Standard atomic weight Ar°(Cr)
  • 51.9961±0.0006
  • 51.996±0.001 (abridged)[1]
Chromium in the periodic table
Hydrogen Helium
Lithium Beryllium Boron Carbon Nitrogen Oxygen Fluorine Neon
Sodium Magnesium Aluminium Silicon Phosphorus Sulfur Chlorine Argon
Potassium Calcium Scandium Titanium Vanadium Chromium Manganese Iron Cobalt Nickel Copper Zinc Gallium Germanium Arsenic Selenium Bromine Krypton
Rubidium Strontium Yttrium Zirconium Niobium Molybdenum Technetium Ruthenium Rhodium Palladium Silver Cadmium Indium Tin Antimony Tellurium Iodine Xenon
Caesium Barium Lanthanum Cerium Praseodymium Neodymium Promethium Samarium Europium Gadolinium Terbium Dysprosium Holmium Erbium Thulium Ytterbium Lutetium Hafnium Tantalum Tungsten Rhenium Osmium Iridium Platinum Gold Mercury (element) Thallium Lead Bismuth Polonium Astatine Radon
Francium Radium Actinium Thorium Protactinium Uranium Neptunium Plutonium Americium Curium Berkelium Californium Einsteinium Fermium Mendelevium Nobelium Lawrencium Rutherfordium Dubnium Seaborgium Bohrium Hassium Meitnerium Darmstadtium Roentgenium Copernicium Nihonium Flerovium Moscovium Livermorium Tennessine Oganesson


Cr

Mo
vanadiumchromiummanganese
Atomic number (Z)24
Groupgroup 6
Periodperiod 4
Block  d-block
Electron configuration[Ar] 3d5 4s1
Electrons per shell2, 8, 13, 1
Physical properties
Phase at STPsolid
Melting point2180 K ​(1907 °C, ​3465 °F)
Boiling point2944 K ​(2671 °C, ​4840 °F)
Density (near r.t.)7.15 g/cm3
when liquid (at m.p.)6.3 g/cm3
Heat of fusion21.0 kJ/mol
Heat of vaporization347 kJ/mol
Molar heat capacity23.35 J/(mol·K)
Vapor pressure
P (Pa) 1 10 100 1 k 10 k 100 k
at T (K) 1656 1807 1991 2223 2530 2942
Atomic properties
Oxidation states−4, −2, −1, 0, +1, +2, +3, +4, +5, +6 (depending on the oxidation state, an acidic, basic, or amphoteric oxide)
ElectronegativityPauling scale: 1.66
Ionization energies
  • 1st: 652.9 kJ/mol
  • 2nd: 1590.6 kJ/mol
  • 3rd: 2987 kJ/mol
  • (more)
Atomic radiusempirical: 128 pm
Covalent radius139±5 pm
Color lines in a spectral range
Spectral lines of chromium
Other properties
Natural occurrenceprimordial
Crystal structurebody-centered cubic (bcc)
Body-centered cubic crystal structure for chromium
Speed of sound thin rod5940 m/s (at 20 °C)
Thermal expansion4.9 µm/(m⋅K) (at 25 °C)
Thermal conductivity93.9 W/(m⋅K)
Electrical resistivity125 nΩ⋅m (at 20 °C)
Magnetic orderingantiferromagnetic (rather: SDW)[2]
Molar magnetic susceptibility+280.0×10−6 cm3/mol (273 K)[3]
Young's modulus279 GPa
Shear modulus115 GPa
Bulk modulus160 GPa
Poisson ratio0.21
Mohs hardness8.5
Vickers hardness1060 MPa
Brinell hardness687–6500 MPa
CAS Number7440-47-3
History
Discovery and first isolationLouis Nicolas Vauquelin (1794, 1797)
Main isotopes of chromium
Iso­tope Abun­dance Half-life (t1/2) Decay mode Pro­duct
50Cr 4.345% stable
51Cr syn 27.7025 d ε 51V
γ
52Cr 83.789% stable
53Cr 9.501% stable
54Cr 2.365% stable
 Category: Chromium
| references

Chromium is a chemical element with the symbol Cr and atomic number 24. It is the first element in group 6. It is a steely-grey, lustrous, hard, and brittle transition metal.[4]

Chromium metal is valued for its high corrosion resistance and hardness. A major development in steel production was the discovery that steel could be made highly resistant to corrosion and discoloration by adding metallic chromium to form stainless steel. Stainless steel and chrome plating (electroplating with chromium) together comprise 85% of the commercial use. Chromium is also greatly valued as a metal that is able to be highly polished while resisting tarnishing. Polished chromium reflects almost 70% of the visible spectrum, and almost 90% of infrared light.[5] The name of the element is derived from the Greek word χρῶμα, chrōma, meaning color,[6] because many chromium compounds are intensely colored.

Industrial production of chromium proceeds from chromite ore (mostly FeCr2O4) to produce ferrochromium, an iron-chromium alloy, by means of aluminothermic or silicothermic reactions. Ferrochromium is then used to produce alloys such as stainless steel. Pure chromium metal is produced by a different process: roasting and leaching of chromite to separate it from iron, followed by reduction with carbon and then aluminium.

In the United States, trivalent chromium (Cr(III)) ion is considered an essential nutrient in humans for insulin, sugar, and lipid metabolism.[7] However, in 2014, the European Food Safety Authority, acting for the European Union, concluded that there was insufficient evidence for chromium to be recognized as essential.[8]

While chromium metal and Cr(III) ions are considered non-toxic, hexavalent chromium, Cr(VI), is toxic and carcinogenic. According to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), chromium trioxide that is used in industrial electroplating processes is a "substance of very high concern" (SVHC).[9]

Abandoned chromium production sites often require environmental cleanup.[10]

Discover more about Chromium related topics

Chemical element

Chemical element

A chemical element is a species of atoms that have a given number of protons in their nuclei, including the pure substance consisting only of that species. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical elements cannot be broken down into simpler substances by any chemical reaction. The number of protons in the nucleus is the defining property of an element, and is referred to as its atomic number – all atoms with the same atomic number are atoms of the same element. Almost all of the baryonic matter of the universe is composed of chemical elements. When different elements undergo chemical reactions, atoms are rearranged into new compounds held together by chemical bonds. Only a minority of elements, such as silver and gold, are found uncombined as relatively pure native element minerals. Nearly all other naturally occurring elements occur in the Earth as compounds or mixtures. Air is primarily a mixture of the elements nitrogen, oxygen, and argon, though it does contain compounds including carbon dioxide and water.

Atomic number

Atomic number

The atomic number or nuclear charge number of a chemical element is the charge number of an atomic nucleus. For ordinary nuclei, this is equal to the proton number (np) or the number of protons found in the nucleus of every atom of that element. The atomic number can be used to uniquely identify ordinary chemical elements. In an ordinary uncharged atom, the atomic number is also equal to the number of electrons.

Corrosion

Corrosion

Corrosion is a natural process that converts a refined metal into a more chemically stable oxide. It is the gradual deterioration of materials by chemical or electrochemical reaction with their environment. Corrosion engineering is the field dedicated to controlling and preventing corrosion.

Chrome plating

Chrome plating

Chrome plating is a technique of electroplating a thin layer of chromium onto a metal object. A chrome-plated item is called chrome. The chromed layer can be decorative, provide corrosion resistance, ease of cleaning, or increase surface hardness. Sometimes, a less expensive imitator of chrome may be used for aesthetic purposes.

Electroplating

Electroplating

Electroplating, also known as electrochemical deposition or electrodeposition, is a process for producing a metal coating on a solid substrate through the reduction of cations of that metal by means of a direct electric current. The part to be coated acts as the cathode of an electrolytic cell; the electrolyte is a solution of a salt of the metal to be coated; and the anode is usually either a block of that metal, or of some inert conductive material. The current is provided by an external power supply.

Ancient Greek

Ancient Greek

Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: Mycenaean Greek, Dark Ages, the Archaic period, and the Classical period.

Color

Color

Color or colour is the visual perceptual property deriving from the spectrum of light interacting with the photoreceptor cells of the eyes. Color categories and physical specifications of color are associated with objects or materials based on their physical properties such as light absorption, reflection, or emission spectra. By defining a color space, colors can be identified numerically by their coordinates.

Chromite

Chromite

Chromite is a crystalline mineral composed primarily of iron(II) oxide and chromium(III) oxide compounds. It can be represented by the chemical formula of FeCr2O4. It is an oxide mineral belonging to the spinel group. The element magnesium can substitute for iron in variable amounts as it forms a solid solution with magnesiochromite (MgCr2O4). A substitution of the element aluminium can also occur, leading to hercynite (FeAl2O4). Chromite today is mined particularly to make stainless steel through the production of ferrochrome (FeCr), which is an iron-chromium alloy.

Aluminothermic reaction

Aluminothermic reaction

Aluminothermic reactions are exothermic chemical reactions using aluminum as the reducing agent at high temperature. The process is industrially useful for production of alloys of iron. The most prominent example is the thermite reaction between iron oxides and aluminum to produce iron itself:Fe2O3 + 2 Al → 2 Fe + Al2O3

Carbon

Carbon

Carbon is a chemical element with the symbol C and atomic number 6. It is nonmetallic and tetravalent—its atom making four electrons available to form covalent chemical bonds. It belongs to group 14 of the periodic table. Carbon makes up only about 0.025 percent of Earth's crust. Three isotopes occur naturally, 12C and 13C being stable, while 14C is a radionuclide, decaying with a half-life of about 5,730 years. Carbon is one of the few elements known since antiquity.

Aluminium

Aluminium

Aluminium is a chemical element with the symbol Al and atomic number 13. Aluminium has a density lower than those of other common metals, at approximately one third that of steel. It has a great affinity towards oxygen, and forms a protective layer of oxide on the surface when exposed to air. Aluminium visually resembles silver, both in its color and in its great ability to reflect light. It is soft, non-magnetic and ductile. It has one stable isotope, 27Al; this isotope is very common, making aluminium the twelfth most common element in the Universe. The radioactivity of 26Al is used in radiodating.

Chromium trioxide

Chromium trioxide

Chromium trioxide (also known as chromium(VI) oxide or chromic anhydride) is an inorganic compound with the formula CrO3. It is the acidic anhydride of chromic acid, and is sometimes marketed under the same name. This compound is a dark-purple solid under anhydrous conditions, bright orange when wet and which dissolves in water concomitant with hydrolysis. Millions of kilograms are produced annually, mainly for electroplating. Chromium trioxide is a powerful oxidiser and a carcinogen.

Physical properties

Atomic

Chromium is the fourth transition metal found on the periodic table, and has an electron configuration of [Ar] 3d5 4s1. It is also the first element in the periodic table whose ground-state electron configuration violates the Aufbau principle. This occurs again later in the periodic table with other elements and their electron configurations, such as copper, niobium, and molybdenum.[11] This occurs because electrons in the same orbital repel each other due to their like charges. In the previous elements, the energetic cost of promoting an electron to the next higher energy level is too great to compensate for that released by lessening inter-electronic repulsion. However, in the 3d transition metals, the energy gap between the 3d and the next-higher 4s subshell is very small, and because the 3d subshell is more compact than the 4s subshell, inter-electron repulsion is smaller between 4s electrons than between 3d electrons. This lowers the energetic cost of promotion and increases the energy released by it, so that the promotion becomes energetically feasible and one or even two electrons are always promoted to the 4s subshell. (Similar promotions happen for every transition metal atom but one, palladium.)[12]

Chromium is the first element in the 3d series where the 3d electrons start to sink into the nucleus; they thus contribute less to metallic bonding, and hence the melting and boiling points and the enthalpy of atomisation of chromium are lower than those of the preceding element vanadium. Chromium(VI) is a strong oxidising agent in contrast to the molybdenum(VI) and tungsten(VI) oxides.[13]

Bulk

Sample of pure chromium metal
Sample of pure chromium metal

Chromium is extremely hard, and is the third hardest element behind carbon (diamond) and boron. Its Mohs hardness is 8.5, which means that it can scratch samples of quartz and topaz, but can be scratched by corundum. Chromium is highly resistant to tarnishing, which makes it useful as a metal that preserves its outermost layer from corroding, unlike other metals such as copper, magnesium, and aluminium.

Chromium has a melting point of 1907 °C (3465 °F), which is relatively low compared to the majority of transition metals. However, it still has the second highest melting point out of all the Period 4 elements, being topped by vanadium by 3 °C (5 °F) at 1910 °C (3470 °F). The boiling point of 2671 °C (4840 °F), however, is comparatively lower, having the fourth lowest boiling point out of the Period 4 transition metals alone behind copper, manganese and zinc.[note 1] The electrical resistivity of chromium at 20 °C is 125 nanoohm-meters.

Chromium has a high specular reflection in comparison to other transition metals. In infrared, at 425 μm, chromium has a maximum reflectance of about 72%, reducing to a minimum of 62% at 750 μm before rising again to 90% at 4000 μm.[5] When chromium is used in stainless steel alloys and polished, the specular reflection decreases with the inclusion of additional metals, yet is still high in comparison with other alloys. Between 40% and 60% of the visible spectrum is reflected from polished stainless steel.[5] The explanation on why chromium displays such a high turnout of reflected photon waves in general, especially the 90% in infrared, can be attributed to chromium's magnetic properties.[14] Chromium has unique magnetic properties - chromium is the only elemental solid that shows antiferromagnetic ordering at room temperature and below. Above 38 °C, its magnetic ordering becomes paramagnetic.[2] The antiferromagnetic properties, which cause the chromium atoms to temporarily ionize and bond with themselves, are present because the body-centric cubic's magnetic properties are disproportionate to the lattice periodicity. This is due to the magnetic moments at the cube's corners and the unequal, but antiparallel, cube centers.[14] From here, the frequency-dependent relative permittivity of chromium, deriving from Maxwell's equations and chromium's antiferromagnetism, leaves chromium with a high infrared and visible light reflectance.[15]

Passivation

Chromium metal left standing in air is passivated - it forms a thin, protective, surface layer of oxide. This layer has a spinel structure a few atomic layers thick; it is very dense and inhibits the diffusion of oxygen into the underlying metal. In contrast, iron forms a more porous oxide through which oxygen can migrate, causing continued rusting.[16] Passivation can be enhanced by short contact with oxidizing acids like nitric acid. Passivated chromium is stable against acids. Passivation can be removed with a strong reducing agent that destroys the protective oxide layer on the metal. Chromium metal treated in this way readily dissolves in weak acids.[17]

Chromium, unlike iron and nickel, does not suffer from hydrogen embrittlement. However, it does suffer from nitrogen embrittlement, reacting with nitrogen from air and forming brittle nitrides at the high temperatures necessary to work the metal parts.[18]

Isotopes

Naturally occurring chromium is composed of three stable isotopes; 52Cr, 53Cr and 54Cr, with 52Cr being the most abundant (83.789% natural abundance). 19 radioisotopes have been characterized, with the most stable being 50Cr with a half-life of (more than) 1.8×1017 years, and 51Cr with a half-life of 27.7 days. All of the remaining radioactive isotopes have half-lives that are less than 24 hours and the majority less than 1 minute. Chromium also has two metastable nuclear isomers.[19]

53Cr is the radiogenic decay product of 53Mn (half-life = 3.74 million years).[20] Chromium isotopes are typically collocated (and compounded) with manganese isotopes. This circumstance is useful in isotope geology. Manganese-chromium isotope ratios reinforce the evidence from 26Al and 107Pd concerning the early history of the Solar System. Variations in 53Cr/52Cr and Mn/Cr ratios from several meteorites indicate an initial 53Mn/55Mn ratio that suggests Mn-Cr isotopic composition must result from in-situ decay of 53Mn in differentiated planetary bodies. Hence 53Cr provides additional evidence for nucleosynthetic processes immediately before coalescence of the Solar System.[21]

The isotopes of chromium range in atomic mass from 43 u (43Cr) to 67 u (67Cr). The primary decay mode before the most abundant stable isotope, 52Cr, is electron capture and the primary mode after is beta decay.[19] 53Cr has been posited as a proxy for atmospheric oxygen concentration.[22]

Discover more about Physical properties related topics

Argon

Argon

Argon is a chemical element with the symbol Ar and atomic number 18. It is in group 18 of the periodic table and is a noble gas. Argon is the third-most abundant gas in Earth's atmosphere, at 0.934%. It is more than twice as abundant as water vapor, 23 times as abundant as carbon dioxide, and more than 500 times as abundant as neon. Argon is the most abundant noble gas in Earth's crust, comprising 0.00015% of the crust.

Aufbau principle

Aufbau principle

The aufbau principle, from the German Aufbauprinzip, also called the aufbau rule, states that in the ground state of an atom or ion, electrons fill subshells of the lowest available energy, then they fill subshells of higher energy. For example, the 1s subshell is filled before the 2s subshell is occupied. In this way, the electrons of an atom or ion form the most stable electron configuration possible. An example is the configuration 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p3 for the phosphorus atom, meaning that the 1s subshell has 2 electrons, and so on.

Copper

Copper

Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a soft, malleable, and ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. A freshly exposed surface of pure copper has a pinkish-orange color. Copper is used as a conductor of heat and electricity, as a building material, and as a constituent of various metal alloys, such as sterling silver used in jewelry, cupronickel used to make marine hardware and coins, and constantan used in strain gauges and thermocouples for temperature measurement.

Niobium

Niobium

Niobium is a chemical element with chemical symbol Nb and atomic number 41. It is a light grey, crystalline, and ductile transition metal. Pure niobium has a Mohs hardness rating similar to pure titanium, and it has similar ductility to iron. Niobium oxidizes in Earth's atmosphere very slowly, hence its application in jewelry as a hypoallergenic alternative to nickel. Niobium is often found in the minerals pyrochlore and columbite, hence the former name "columbium". Its name comes from Greek mythology: Niobe, daughter of Tantalus, the namesake of tantalum. The name reflects the great similarity between the two elements in their physical and chemical properties, which makes them difficult to distinguish.

Molybdenum

Molybdenum

Molybdenum is a chemical element with the symbol Mo and atomic number 42 which is located in period 5 and group 6. The name is from Neo-Latin molybdaenum, which is based on Ancient Greek Μόλυβδος molybdos, meaning lead, since its ores were confused with lead ores. Molybdenum minerals have been known throughout history, but the element was discovered in 1778 by Carl Wilhelm Scheele. The metal was first isolated in 1781 by Peter Jacob Hjelm.

Atomic nucleus

Atomic nucleus

The atomic nucleus is the small, dense region consisting of protons and neutrons at the center of an atom, discovered in 1911 by Ernest Rutherford based on the 1909 Geiger–Marsden gold foil experiment. After the discovery of the neutron in 1932, models for a nucleus composed of protons and neutrons were quickly developed by Dmitri Ivanenko and Werner Heisenberg. An atom is composed of a positively charged nucleus, with a cloud of negatively charged electrons surrounding it, bound together by electrostatic force. Almost all of the mass of an atom is located in the nucleus, with a very small contribution from the electron cloud. Protons and neutrons are bound together to form a nucleus by the nuclear force.

Metallic bonding

Metallic bonding

Metallic bonding is a type of chemical bonding that arises from the electrostatic attractive force between conduction electrons and positively charged metal ions. It may be described as the sharing of free electrons among a structure of positively charged ions (cations). Metallic bonding accounts for many physical properties of metals, such as strength, ductility, thermal and electrical resistivity and conductivity, opacity, and luster.

Hardness

Hardness

In materials science, hardness is a measure of the resistance to localized plastic deformation induced by either mechanical indentation or abrasion. In general, different materials differ in their hardness; for example hard metals such as titanium and beryllium are harder than soft metals such as sodium and metallic tin, or wood and common plastics. Macroscopic hardness is generally characterized by strong intermolecular bonds, but the behavior of solid materials under force is complex; therefore, hardness can be measured in different ways, such as scratch hardness, indentation hardness, and rebound hardness.

Carbon

Carbon

Carbon is a chemical element with the symbol C and atomic number 6. It is nonmetallic and tetravalent—its atom making four electrons available to form covalent chemical bonds. It belongs to group 14 of the periodic table. Carbon makes up only about 0.025 percent of Earth's crust. Three isotopes occur naturally, 12C and 13C being stable, while 14C is a radionuclide, decaying with a half-life of about 5,730 years. Carbon is one of the few elements known since antiquity.

Diamond

Diamond

Diamond is a solid form of the element carbon with its atoms arranged in a crystal structure called diamond cubic. Another solid form of carbon known as graphite is the chemically stable form of carbon at room temperature and pressure, but diamond is metastable and converts to it at a negligible rate under those conditions. Diamond has the highest hardness and thermal conductivity of any natural material, properties that are used in major industrial applications such as cutting and polishing tools. They are also the reason that diamond anvil cells can subject materials to pressures found deep in the Earth.

Boron

Boron

Boron is a chemical element with the symbol B and atomic number 5. In its crystalline form it is a brittle, dark, lustrous metalloid; in its amorphous form it is a brown powder. As the lightest element of the boron group it has three valence electrons for forming covalent bonds, resulting in many compounds such as boric acid, the mineral sodium borate, and the ultra-hard crystals of boron carbide and boron nitride.

Mohs scale of mineral hardness

Mohs scale of mineral hardness

The Mohs scale of mineral hardness is a qualitative ordinal scale, from 1 to 10, characterizing scratch resistance of various minerals through the ability of harder material to scratch softer material.

Chemistry and compounds

The Pourbaix diagram for chromium in pure water, perchloric acid, or sodium hydroxide[23][24]
The Pourbaix diagram for chromium in pure water, perchloric acid, or sodium hydroxide[23][24]

Chromium is a member of group 6, of the transition metals. The +3 and +6 states occur most commonly within chromium compounds, followed by +2; charges of +1, +4 and +5 for chromium are rare, but do nevertheless occasionally exist.[25][26]

Common oxidation states

Oxidation
states[note 2][26]
−4 (d10) Na4[Cr(CO)4][27]
−2 (d8) Na
2
[Cr(CO)
5
]
−1 (d7) Na
2
[Cr
2
(CO)
10
]
0 (d6) Cr(C
6
H
6
)
2
+1 (d5) K
3
[Cr(CN)
5
NO]
+2 (d4) CrCl
2
+3 (d3) CrCl
3
+4 (d2) K
2
CrF
6
+5 (d1) K
3
Cr(O
2
)
4
+6 (d0) K
2
CrO
4

Chromium(0)

Many Cr(0) complexes are known. Bis(benzene)chromium and chromium hexacarbonyl are highlights in organochromium chemistry.

Chromium(II)

Chromium(II) compounds are uncommon, in part because they readily oxidize to chromium(III) derivatives in air. Water-stable chromium(II) chloride CrCl
2
that can be made by reducing chromium(III) chloride with zinc. The resulting bright blue solution created from dissolving chromium(II) chloride is stable at neutral pH.[17] Some other notable chromium(II) compounds include chromium(II) oxide CrO, and chromium(II) sulfate CrSO
4
. Many chromium(II) carboxylates are known. The red chromium(II) acetate (Cr2(O2CCH3)4) is somewhat famous. It features a Cr-Cr quadruple bond.[28]

Chromium(III)

Anhydrous chromium(III) chloride (CrCl3)
Anhydrous chromium(III) chloride (CrCl3)

A large number of chromium(III) compounds are known, such as chromium(III) nitrate, chromium(III) acetate, and chromium(III) oxide.[29] Chromium(III) can be obtained by dissolving elemental chromium in acids like hydrochloric acid or sulfuric acid, but it can also be formed through the reduction of chromium(VI) by cytochrome c7.[30] The Cr3+
ion has a similar radius (63 pm) to Al3+
(radius 50 pm), and they can replace each other in some compounds, such as in chrome alum and alum.

Chromium(III) tends to form octahedral complexes. Commercially available chromium(III) chloride hydrate is the dark green complex [CrCl2(H2O)4]Cl. Closely related compounds are the pale green [CrCl(H2O)5]Cl2 and violet [Cr(H2O)6]Cl3. If anhydrous violet[31] chromium(III) chloride is dissolved in water, the violet solution turns green after some time as the chloride in the inner coordination sphere is replaced by water. This kind of reaction is also observed with solutions of chrome alum and other water-soluble chromium(III) salts. A tetrahedral coordination of chromium(III) has been reported for the Cr-centered Keggin anion [α-CrW12O40]5–.[32]

Chromium(III) hydroxide (Cr(OH)3) is amphoteric, dissolving in acidic solutions to form [Cr(H2O)6]3+, and in basic solutions to form [Cr(OH)
6
]3−
. It is dehydrated by heating to form the green chromium(III) oxide (Cr2O3), a stable oxide with a crystal structure identical to that of corundum.[17]

Chromium(VI)

Chromium(VI) compounds are oxidants at low or neutral pH. Chromate anions (CrO2−
4
) and dichromate (Cr2O72−) anions are the principal ions at this oxidation state. They exist at an equilibrium, determined by pH:

2 [CrO4]2− + 2 H+ ⇌ [Cr2O7]2− + H2O

Chromium(VI) oxyhalides are known also and include chromyl fluoride (CrO2F2) and chromyl chloride (CrO
2
Cl
2
).[17] However, despite several erroneous claims, chromium hexafluoride (as well as all higher hexahalides) remains unknown, as of 2020.[33]

Chromium(VI) oxide
Chromium(VI) oxide

Sodium chromate is produced industrially by the oxidative roasting of chromite ore with sodium carbonate. The change in equilibrium is visible by a change from yellow (chromate) to orange (dichromate), such as when an acid is added to a neutral solution of potassium chromate. At yet lower pH values, further condensation to more complex oxyanions of chromium is possible.

Both the chromate and dichromate anions are strong oxidizing reagents at low pH:[17]

Cr
2
O2−
7
+ 14 H
3
O+
+ 6 e → 2 Cr3+
+ 21 H
2
O
0 = 1.33 V)

They are, however, only moderately oxidizing at high pH:[17]

CrO2−
4
+ 4 H
2
O
+ 3 eCr(OH)
3
+ 5 OH
0 = −0.13 V)
Sodium chromate (Na2CrO4)
Sodium chromate (Na2CrO4)

Chromium(VI) compounds in solution can be detected by adding an acidic hydrogen peroxide solution. The unstable dark blue chromium(VI) peroxide (CrO5) is formed, which can be stabilized as an ether adduct CrO
5
·OR
2
.[17]

Chromic acid has the hypothetical formula H
2
CrO
4
. It is a vaguely described chemical, despite many well-defined chromates and dichromates being known. The dark red chromium(VI) oxide CrO
3
, the acid anhydride of chromic acid, is sold industrially as "chromic acid".[17] It can be produced by mixing sulfuric acid with dichromate and is a strong oxidizing agent.

Other oxidation states

Compounds of chromium(V) are rather rare; the oxidation state +5 is only realized in few compounds but are intermediates in many reactions involving oxidations by chromate. The only binary compound is the volatile chromium(V) fluoride (CrF5). This red solid has a melting point of 30 °C and a boiling point of 117 °C. It can be prepared by treating chromium metal with fluorine at 400 °C and 200 bar pressure. The peroxochromate(V) is another example of the +5 oxidation state. Potassium peroxochromate (K3[Cr(O2)4]) is made by reacting potassium chromate with hydrogen peroxide at low temperatures. This red brown compound is stable at room temperature but decomposes spontaneously at 150–170 °C.[34]

Compounds of chromium(IV) are slightly more common than those of chromium(V). The tetrahalides, CrF4, CrCl4, and CrBr4, can be produced by treating the trihalides (CrX
3
) with the corresponding halogen at elevated temperatures. Such compounds are susceptible to disproportionation reactions and are not stable in water. Organic compounds containing Cr(IV) state such as chromium tetra t-butoxide are also known.[35]

Most chromium(I) compounds are obtained solely by oxidation of electron-rich, octahedral chromium(0) complexes. Other chromium(I) complexes contain cyclopentadienyl ligands. As verified by X-ray diffraction, a Cr-Cr quintuple bond (length 183.51(4)  pm) has also been described.[36] Extremely bulky monodentate ligands stabilize this compound by shielding the quintuple bond from further reactions.

Chromium compound determined experimentally to contain a Cr-Cr quintuple bond
Chromium compound determined experimentally to contain a Cr-Cr quintuple bond

Discover more about Chemistry and compounds related topics

Group 6 element

Group 6 element

Group 6, numbered by IUPAC style, is a group of elements in the periodic table. Its members are chromium (Cr), molybdenum (Mo), tungsten (W), and seaborgium (Sg). These are all transition metals and chromium, molybdenum and tungsten are refractory metals.

Bis(benzene)chromium

Bis(benzene)chromium

Bis(benzene)chromium is the organometallic compound with the formula Cr(η6-C6H6)2. It is sometimes called dibenzenechromium. The compound played an important role in the development of sandwich compounds in organometallic chemistry and is the prototypical complex containing two arene ligands.

Chromium(II) chloride

Chromium(II) chloride

Chromium(II) chloride describes inorganic compounds with the formula CrCl2(H2O)n. The anhydrous solid is white when pure, however commercial samples are often grey or green; it is hygroscopic and readily dissolves in water to give bright blue air-sensitive solutions of the tetrahydrate Cr(H2O)4Cl2. Chromium(II) chloride has no commercial uses but is used on a laboratory-scale for the synthesis of other chromium complexes.

Chromium(III) chloride

Chromium(III) chloride

Chromium(III) chloride (also called chromic chloride) describes any of several chemical compounds with the formula CrCl3 · x H2O, where x can be 0, 5, and 6. The anhydrous compound with the formula CrCl3 is a violet solid. The most common form of the trichloride is the dark green hexahydrate, CrCl3 · 6 H2O. Chromium chlorides find use as catalysts and as precursors to dyes for wool.

Chromium hexacarbonyl

Chromium hexacarbonyl

Chromium carbonyl, also known as chromium hexacarbonyl, is the chemical compound with the formula Cr(CO)6. At room temperature the solid is stable to air, although it does have a high vapor pressure and sublimes readily. Cr(CO)6 is zerovalent, meaning that Cr has an oxidation state of zero, and it is a homoleptic complex, which means that all the ligands are identical. The complex is octahedral with Cr–C and C–O distances of 1.91 and 1.14 Å, respectively.

Organochromium chemistry

Organochromium chemistry

Organochromium chemistry is a branch of organometallic chemistry that deals with organic compounds containing a chromium to carbon bond and their reactions. The field is of some relevance to organic synthesis. The relevant oxidation states for organochromium complexes encompass the entire range of possible oxidation states from –4 (d10) in Na4[Cr–IV(CO)4] to +6 (d0) in oxo-alkyl complexes like Cp*CrVI(=O)2Me.

Chromium(II) carbide

Chromium(II) carbide

Chromium(II) carbide is a ceramic compound that exists in several chemical compositions: Cr3C2, Cr7C3, and Cr23C6. At standard conditions it exists as a gray solid. It is extremely hard and corrosion resistant. It is also a refractory compound, which means that it retains its strength at high temperatures as well. These properties make it useful as an additive to metal alloys. When chromium carbide crystals are integrated into the surface of a metal it improves the wear resistance and corrosion resistance of the metal, and maintains these properties at elevated temperatures. The hardest and most commonly used composition for this purpose is Cr3C2.

PH

PH

In chemistry, pH, historically denoting "potential of hydrogen", is a scale used to specify the acidity or basicity of an aqueous solution. Acidic solutions are measured to have lower pH values than basic or alkaline solutions.

Chromium(II) oxide

Chromium(II) oxide

Chromium(II) oxide (CrO) is an inorganic compound composed of chromium and oxygen. It is a black powder that crystallises in the rock salt structure. Hypophosphites may reduce chromium(III) oxide to chromium(II) oxide:H3PO2 + 2 Cr2O3 → 4 CrO + H3PO4

Chromium(II) sulfate

Chromium(II) sulfate

Chromium(II) sulfate refers to inorganic compounds with the chemical formula CrSO4·n H2O. Several closely related hydrated salts are known. The pentahydrate is a blue solid that dissolves readily in water. Solutions of chromium(II) are easily oxidized by air to Cr(III) species. Solutions of Cr(II) are used as specialized reducing agents of value in organic synthesis.

Chromium(II) acetate

Chromium(II) acetate

Chromium(II) acetate hydrate, also known as chromous acetate, is the coordination compound with the formula Cr2(CH3CO2)4(H2O)2. This formula is commonly abbreviated Cr2(OAc)4(H2O)2. This red-coloured compound features a quadruple bond. The preparation of chromous acetate once was a standard test of the synthetic skills of students due to its sensitivity to air and the dramatic colour changes that accompany its oxidation. It exists as the dihydrate and the anhydrous forms.

Chromium(III) acetate

Chromium(III) acetate

Chromium(III) acetate, commonly known as basic chromium acetate, describes a family of salts where the cation has the formula [Cr3O(O2CCH3)6(OH2)3]+. The trichromium cation is encountered with a variety of anions, such as chloride and nitrate. Data in the table above are for the chloride hexahydrate, [Cr3O(O2CCH3)6(OH2)3]Cl(H2O)6.

Occurrence

Crocoite (PbCrO4)
Crocoite (PbCrO4)

Chromium is the 21st[37] most abundant element in Earth's crust with an average concentration of 100 ppm. Chromium compounds are found in the environment from the erosion of chromium-containing rocks, and can be redistributed by volcanic eruptions. Typical background concentrations of chromium in environmental media are: atmosphere 3; soil [38] Chromium is mined as chromite (FeCr2O4) ore.[39]

About two-fifths of the chromite ores and concentrates in the world are produced in South Africa, about a third in Kazakhstan,[40] while India, Russia, and Turkey are also substantial producers. Untapped chromite deposits are plentiful, but geographically concentrated in Kazakhstan and southern Africa.[41] Although rare, deposits of native chromium exist.[42][43] The Udachnaya Pipe in Russia produces samples of the native metal. This mine is a kimberlite pipe, rich in diamonds, and the reducing environment helped produce both elemental chromium and diamonds.[44]

The relation between Cr(III) and Cr(VI) strongly depends on pH and oxidative properties of the location. In most cases, Cr(III) is the dominating species,[23] but in some areas, the ground water can contain up to 39 µg/L of total chromium, of which 30 µg/L is Cr(VI).[45]

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Crocoite

Crocoite

Crocoite is a mineral consisting of lead chromate, PbCrO4, and crystallizing in the monoclinic crystal system. It is identical in composition with the artificial product chrome yellow used as a paint pigment.

Chromite

Chromite

Chromite is a crystalline mineral composed primarily of iron(II) oxide and chromium(III) oxide compounds. It can be represented by the chemical formula of FeCr2O4. It is an oxide mineral belonging to the spinel group. The element magnesium can substitute for iron in variable amounts as it forms a solid solution with magnesiochromite (MgCr2O4). A substitution of the element aluminium can also occur, leading to hercynite (FeAl2O4). Chromite today is mined particularly to make stainless steel through the production of ferrochrome (FeCr), which is an iron-chromium alloy.

Abundance of elements in Earth's crust

Abundance of elements in Earth's crust

The abundance of elements in Earth's crust is shown in tabulated form with the estimated crustal abundance for each chemical element shown as mg/kg, or parts per million (ppm) by mass.

Erosion

Erosion

Erosion is the action of surface processes that removes soil, rock, or dissolved material from one location on the Earth's crust, and then transports it to another location where it is deposited. Erosion is distinct from weathering which involves no movement. Removal of rock or soil as clastic sediment is referred to as physical or mechanical erosion; this contrasts with chemical erosion, where soil or rock material is removed from an area by dissolution. Eroded sediment or solutes may be transported just a few millimetres, or for thousands of kilometres.

Native metal

Native metal

A native metal is any metal that is found pure in its metallic form in nature. Metals that can be found as native deposits singly or in alloys include aluminium, antimony, arsenic, bismuth, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, indium, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, niobium, rhenium, selenium, tantalum, tellurium, tin, titanium, tungsten, vanadium, and zinc, as well as the gold group and the platinum group. Among the alloys found in native state have been brass, bronze, pewter, German silver, osmiridium, electrum, white gold, silver-mercury amalgam, and gold-mercury amalgam.

Kimberlite

Kimberlite

Kimberlite is an igneous rock and a rare variant of peridotite. It is most commonly known to be the main host matrix for diamonds. It is named after the town of Kimberley in South Africa, where the discovery of an 83.5-carat (16.70 g) diamond called the Star of South Africa in 1869 spawned a diamond rush and the digging of the open-pit mine called the Big Hole. Previously, the term kimberlite has been applied to olivine lamproites as Kimberlite II, however this has been in error.

Diamond

Diamond

Diamond is a solid form of the element carbon with its atoms arranged in a crystal structure called diamond cubic. Another solid form of carbon known as graphite is the chemically stable form of carbon at room temperature and pressure, but diamond is metastable and converts to it at a negligible rate under those conditions. Diamond has the highest hardness and thermal conductivity of any natural material, properties that are used in major industrial applications such as cutting and polishing tools. They are also the reason that diamond anvil cells can subject materials to pressures found deep in the Earth.

Redox

Redox

Redox is a type of chemical reaction in which the oxidation states of substrate change. Oxidation is the loss of electrons or an increase in the oxidation state, likewise, reduction is the gain of electrons or a decrease in the oxidation state.

PH

PH

In chemistry, pH, historically denoting "potential of hydrogen", is a scale used to specify the acidity or basicity of an aqueous solution. Acidic solutions are measured to have lower pH values than basic or alkaline solutions.

History

Early applications

Chromium minerals as pigments came to the attention of the west in the eighteenth century. On 26 July 1761, Johann Gottlob Lehmann found an orange-red mineral in the Beryozovskoye mines in the Ural Mountains which he named Siberian red lead.[46][47] Though misidentified as a lead compound with selenium and iron components, the mineral was in fact crocoite with a formula of PbCrO4.[48] In 1770, Peter Simon Pallas visited the same site as Lehmann and found a red lead mineral that was discovered to possess useful properties as a pigment in paints. After Pallas, the use of Siberian red lead as a paint pigment began to develop rapidly throughout the region.[49] Crocoite would be the principal source of chromium in pigments until the discovery of chromite many years later.[50]

The red color of rubies is due to trace amounts of chromium within the corundum.
The red color of rubies is due to trace amounts of chromium within the corundum.

In 1794, Louis Nicolas Vauquelin received samples of crocoite ore. He produced chromium trioxide (CrO3) by mixing crocoite with hydrochloric acid.[48] In 1797, Vauquelin discovered that he could isolate metallic chromium by heating the oxide in a charcoal oven, for which he is credited as the one who truly discovered the element.[51][52] Vauquelin was also able to detect traces of chromium in precious gemstones, such as ruby and emerald.[48][53]

During the nineteenth century, chromium was primarily used not only as a component of paints, but in tanning salts as well. For quite some time, the crocoite found in Russia was the main source for such tanning materials. In 1827, a larger chromite deposit was discovered near Baltimore, United States, which quickly met the demand for tanning salts much more adequately than the crocoite that had been used previously.[54] This made the United States the largest producer of chromium products until the year 1848, when larger deposits of chromite were uncovered near the city of Bursa, Turkey.[39] With the development of metallurgy and chemical industries in the Western world, the need for chromium increased.[55]

Chromium is also famous for its reflective, metallic luster when polished. It is used as a protective and decorative coating on car parts, plumbing fixtures, furniture parts and many other items, usually applied by electroplating. Chromium was used for electroplating as early as 1848, but this use only became widespread with the development of an improved process in 1924.[56]

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Johann Gottlob Lehmann (scientist)

Johann Gottlob Lehmann (scientist)

Johann Gottlob Lehmann was a German mineralogist and geologist noted for his work and research contributions to the geologic record leading to the development of stratigraphy.

Beryozovskoye deposit

Beryozovskoye deposit

Beryozovskoye deposit, Berezovskoe gold deposit, Berezovsky deposit, Berezovsk Mines, and some other names is the first known primary deposit of gold in Russia. It is located 13 km northwest of Yekaterinburg in the central Urals Federal District. It was discovered in 1745 by a raskolnik Yerofey Markov. The first mine was established in 1747. The deposit is named after the Beryozovka River and is associated with the settlement of Berezovsky, now the town of Beryozovsky, Sverdlovsk Oblast.

Lead

Lead

Lead is a chemical element with the symbol Pb and atomic number 82. It is a heavy metal that is denser than most common materials. Lead is soft and malleable, and also has a relatively low melting point. When freshly cut, lead is a shiny gray with a hint of blue. It tarnishes to a dull gray color when exposed to air. Lead has the highest atomic number of any stable element and three of its isotopes are endpoints of major nuclear decay chains of heavier elements. Lead is toxic, even in small amounts, especially to children.

Iron

Iron

Iron is a chemical element with symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal that belongs to the first transition series and group 8 of the periodic table. It is, by mass, the most common element on Earth, right in front of oxygen, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust.

Crocoite

Crocoite

Crocoite is a mineral consisting of lead chromate, PbCrO4, and crystallizing in the monoclinic crystal system. It is identical in composition with the artificial product chrome yellow used as a paint pigment.

Chromite

Chromite

Chromite is a crystalline mineral composed primarily of iron(II) oxide and chromium(III) oxide compounds. It can be represented by the chemical formula of FeCr2O4. It is an oxide mineral belonging to the spinel group. The element magnesium can substitute for iron in variable amounts as it forms a solid solution with magnesiochromite (MgCr2O4). A substitution of the element aluminium can also occur, leading to hercynite (FeAl2O4). Chromite today is mined particularly to make stainless steel through the production of ferrochrome (FeCr), which is an iron-chromium alloy.

Corundum

Corundum

Corundum is a crystalline form of aluminium oxide typically containing traces of iron, titanium, vanadium and chromium. It is a rock-forming mineral. It is a naturally transparent material, but can have different colors depending on the presence of transition metal impurities in its crystalline structure. Corundum has two primary gem varieties: ruby and sapphire. Rubies are red due to the presence of chromium, and sapphires exhibit a range of colors depending on what transition metal is present. A rare type of sapphire, padparadscha sapphire, is pink-orange.

Louis Nicolas Vauquelin

Louis Nicolas Vauquelin

Prof Louis Nicolas Vauquelin FRS(For) HFRSE was a French pharmacist and chemist. He was the discoverer of both chromium and beryllium.

Ore

Ore

Ore is natural rock or sediment that contains one or more valuable minerals, typically containing metals, that can be mined, treated and sold at a profit. Ore is extracted from the earth through mining and treated or refined, often via smelting, to extract the valuable metals or minerals. The grade of ore refers to the concentration of the desired material it contains. The value of the metals or minerals a rock contains must be weighed against the cost of extraction to determine whether it is of sufficiently high grade to be worth mining, and is therefore considered an ore.

Hydrochloric acid

Hydrochloric acid

Hydrochloric acid, also known as muriatic acid, is an aqueous solution of hydrogen chloride. It is a colorless solution with a distinctive pungent smell. It is classified as a strong acid. It is a component of the gastric acid in the digestive systems of most animal species, including humans. Hydrochloric acid is an important laboratory reagent and industrial chemical.

Gemstone

Gemstone

A gemstone is a piece of mineral crystal which, in cut and polished form, is used to make jewelry or other adornments. However, certain rocks and occasionally organic materials that are not minerals are also used for jewelry and are therefore often considered to be gemstones as well. Most gemstones are hard, but some soft minerals are used in jewelry because of their luster or other physical properties that have aesthetic value. Rarity and notoriety are other characteristics that lend value to gemstones.

Emerald

Emerald

Emerald is a gemstone and a variety of the mineral beryl (Be3Al2(SiO3)6) colored green by trace amounts of chromium or sometimes vanadium. Beryl has a hardness of 7.5–8 on the Mohs scale. Most emeralds are highly included, so their toughness (resistance to breakage) is classified as generally poor. Emerald is a cyclosilicate.

Production

Piece of chromium produced with aluminothermic reaction
Piece of chromium produced with aluminothermic reaction
World production trend of chromium
World production trend of chromium
Chromium, remelted in a horizontal arc zone-refiner, showing large visible crystal grains
Chromium, remelted in a horizontal arc zone-refiner, showing large visible crystal grains

Approximately 28.8 million metric tons (Mt) of marketable chromite ore was produced in 2013, and converted into 7.5 Mt of ferrochromium.[41] According to John F. Papp, writing for the USGS, "Ferrochromium is the leading end use of chromite ore, [and] stainless steel is the leading end use of ferrochromium."[41]

The largest producers of chromium ore in 2013 have been South Africa (48%), Kazakhstan (13%), Turkey (11%), and India (10%), with several other countries producing the rest of about 18% of the world production.[41]

The two main products of chromium ore refining are ferrochromium and metallic chromium. For those products the ore smelter process differs considerably. For the production of ferrochromium, the chromite ore (FeCr2O4) is reduced in large scale in electric arc furnace or in smaller smelters with either aluminium or silicon in an aluminothermic reaction.[57]

Chromium ore output in 2002[58]
Chromium ore output in 2002[58]

For the production of pure chromium, the iron must be separated from the chromium in a two step roasting and leaching process. The chromite ore is heated with a mixture of calcium carbonate and sodium carbonate in the presence of air. The chromium is oxidized to the hexavalent form, while the iron forms the stable Fe2O3. The subsequent leaching at higher elevated temperatures dissolves the chromates and leaves the insoluble iron oxide. The chromate is converted by sulfuric acid into the dichromate.[57]

4 FeCr2O4 + 8 Na2CO3 + 7 O2 → 8 Na2CrO4 + 2 Fe2O3 + 8 CO2
2 Na2CrO4 + H2SO4 → Na2Cr2O7 + Na2SO4 + H2O

The dichromate is converted to the chromium(III) oxide by reduction with carbon and then reduced in an aluminothermic reaction to chromium.[57]

Na2Cr2O7 + 2 C → Cr2O3 + Na2CO3 + CO
Cr2O3 + 2 Al → Al2O3 + 2 Cr

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Aluminothermic reaction

Aluminothermic reaction

Aluminothermic reactions are exothermic chemical reactions using aluminum as the reducing agent at high temperature. The process is industrially useful for production of alloys of iron. The most prominent example is the thermite reaction between iron oxides and aluminum to produce iron itself:Fe2O3 + 2 Al → 2 Fe + Al2O3

Electric arc furnace

Electric arc furnace

An electric arc furnace (EAF) is a furnace that heats material by means of an electric arc.

Aluminium

Aluminium

Aluminium is a chemical element with the symbol Al and atomic number 13. Aluminium has a density lower than those of other common metals, at approximately one third that of steel. It has a great affinity towards oxygen, and forms a protective layer of oxide on the surface when exposed to air. Aluminium visually resembles silver, both in its color and in its great ability to reflect light. It is soft, non-magnetic and ductile. It has one stable isotope, 27Al; this isotope is very common, making aluminium the twelfth most common element in the Universe. The radioactivity of 26Al is used in radiodating.

Silicon

Silicon

Silicon is a chemical element with the symbol Si and atomic number 14. It is a hard, brittle crystalline solid with a blue-grey metallic luster, and is a tetravalent metalloid and semiconductor. It is a member of group 14 in the periodic table: carbon is above it; and germanium, tin, lead, and flerovium are below it. It is relatively unreactive.

Calcium carbonate

Calcium carbonate

Calcium carbonate is a chemical compound with the formula CaCO3. It is a common substance found in rocks as the minerals calcite and aragonite and is the main component of eggshells, gastropod shells, shellfish skeletons and pearls. Calcium carbonate is the active ingredient in agricultural lime and is created when calcium ions in hard water react with carbonate ions to create limescale. It has medical use as a calcium supplement or as an antacid, but excessive consumption can be hazardous and cause hypercalcemia and digestive issues.

Sodium carbonate

Sodium carbonate

Sodium carbonate, Na2CO3, (also known as washing soda, soda ash and soda crystals) is the inorganic compound with the formula Na2CO3 and its various hydrates. All forms are white, odourless, water-soluble salts that yield moderately alkaline solutions in water. Historically, it was extracted from the ashes of plants growing in sodium-rich soils. Because the ashes of these sodium-rich plants were noticeably different from ashes of wood (once used to produce potash), sodium carbonate became known as "soda ash". It is produced in large quantities from sodium chloride and limestone by the Solvay process.

Sulfuric acid

Sulfuric acid

Sulfuric acid or sulphuric acid, known in antiquity as oil of vitriol, is a mineral acid composed of the elements sulfur, oxygen and hydrogen, with the molecular formula H2SO4. It is a colorless, odorless and viscous liquid that is miscible with water.

Applications

The creation of metal alloys account for 85% of the available chromium's usage. The remainder of chromium is used in the chemical, refractory, and foundry industries.[59]

Metallurgy

Stainless steel cutlery made from Cromargan 18/10, containing 18% chromium
Stainless steel cutlery made from Cromargan 18/10, containing 18% chromium

The strengthening effect of forming stable metal carbides at grain boundaries, and the strong increase in corrosion resistance made chromium an important alloying material for steel. High-speed tool steels contain between 3 and 5% chromium. Stainless steel, the primary corrosion-resistant metal alloy, is formed when chromium is introduced to iron in concentrations above 11%.[60] For stainless steel's formation, ferrochromium is added to the molten iron. Also, nickel-based alloys have increased strength due to the formation of discrete, stable, metal, carbide particles at the grain boundaries. For example, Inconel 718 contains 18.6% chromium. Because of the excellent high-temperature properties of these nickel superalloys, they are used in jet engines and gas turbines in lieu of common structural materials.[61] ASTM B163 relies on Chromium for condenser and heat-exchanger tubes, while castings with high strength at elevated temperatures that contain Chromium are standardised with ASTM A567.[62] AISI type 332 is used where high temperature would normally cause carburization, oxidation or corrosion.[63] Incoloy 800 "is capable of remaining stable and maintaining its austenitic structure even after long time exposures to high temperatures".[64] Nichrome is used as resistance wire for heating elements in things like toasters and space heaters. These uses make chromium a strategic material. Consequently, during World War II, U.S. road engineers were instructed to avoid chromium in yellow road paint, as it "may become a critical material during the emergency."[65] The United States likewise considered chromium "essential for the German war industry" and made intense diplomatic efforts to keep it out of the hands of Nazi Germany.[66]

Decorative chrome plating on a motorcycle
Decorative chrome plating on a motorcycle

The high hardness and corrosion resistance of unalloyed chromium makes it a reliable metal for surface coating; it is still the most popular metal for sheet coating, with its above-average durability, compared to other coating metals.[67] A layer of chromium is deposited on pretreated metallic surfaces by electroplating techniques. There are two deposition methods: thin, and thick. Thin deposition involves a layer of chromium below 1 µm thickness deposited by chrome plating, and is used for decorative surfaces. Thicker chromium layers are deposited if wear-resistant surfaces are needed. Both methods use acidic chromate or dichromate solutions. To prevent the energy-consuming change in oxidation state, the use of chromium(III) sulfate is under development; for most applications of chromium, the previously established process is used.[56]

In the chromate conversion coating process, the strong oxidative properties of chromates are used to deposit a protective oxide layer on metals like aluminium, zinc, and cadmium. This passivation and the self-healing properties of the chromate stored in the chromate conversion coating, which is able to migrate to local defects, are the benefits of this coating method.[68] Because of environmental and health regulations on chromates, alternative coating methods are under development.[69]

Chromic acid anodizing (or Type I anodizing) of aluminium is another electrochemical process that does not lead to the deposition of chromium, but uses chromic acid as an electrolyte in the solution. During anodization, an oxide layer is formed on the aluminium. The use of chromic acid, instead of the normally used sulfuric acid, leads to a slight difference of these oxide layers.[70] The high toxicity of Cr(VI) compounds, used in the established chromium electroplating process, and the strengthening of safety and environmental regulations demand a search for substitutes for chromium, or at least a change to less toxic chromium(III) compounds.[56]

Pigment

The mineral crocoite (which is also lead chromate PbCrO4) was used as a yellow pigment shortly after its discovery. After a synthesis method became available starting from the more abundant chromite, chrome yellow was, together with cadmium yellow, one of the most used yellow pigments. The pigment does not photodegrade, but it tends to darken due to the formation of chromium(III) oxide. It has a strong color, and was used for school buses in the United States and for the postal services (for example, the Deutsche Post) in Europe. The use of chrome yellow has since declined due to environmental and safety concerns and was replaced by organic pigments or other alternatives that are free from lead and chromium. Other pigments that are based around chromium are, for example, the deep shade of red pigment chrome red, which is simply lead chromate with lead(II) hydroxide (PbCrO4·Pb(OH)2). A very important chromate pigment, which was used widely in metal primer formulations, was zinc chromate, now replaced by zinc phosphate. A wash primer was formulated to replace the dangerous practice of pre-treating aluminium aircraft bodies with a phosphoric acid solution. This used zinc tetroxychromate dispersed in a solution of polyvinyl butyral. An 8% solution of phosphoric acid in solvent was added just before application. It was found that an easily oxidized alcohol was an essential ingredient. A thin layer of about 10–15 µm was applied, which turned from yellow to dark green when it was cured. There is still a question as to the correct mechanism. Chrome green is a mixture of Prussian blue and chrome yellow, while the chrome oxide green is chromium(III) oxide.[71]

Chromium oxides are also used as a green pigment in the field of glassmaking and also as a glaze for ceramics.[72] Green chromium oxide is extremely lightfast and as such is used in cladding coatings. It is also the main ingredient in infrared reflecting paints, used by the armed forces to paint vehicles and to give them the same infrared reflectance as green leaves.[73]

Other uses

Red crystal of a ruby laser
Red crystal of a ruby laser

Chromium(III) ions present in corundum crystals (aluminium oxide) cause them to be colored red; when corundum appears as such, it is known as a ruby. If the corundum is lacking in chromium(III) ions, it is known as a sapphire.[note 3] A red-colored artificial ruby may also be achieved by doping chromium(III) into artificial corundum crystals, thus making chromium a requirement for making synthetic rubies.[note 4][74] Such a synthetic ruby crystal was the basis for the first laser, produced in 1960, which relied on stimulated emission of light from the chromium atoms in such a crystal. Ruby has a laser transition at 694.3 nanometers, in a deep red color.[75]

Because of their toxicity, chromium(VI) salts are used for the preservation of wood. For example, chromated copper arsenate (CCA) is used in timber treatment to protect wood from decay fungi, wood-attacking insects, including termites, and marine borers.[76] The formulations contain chromium based on the oxide CrO3 between 35.3% and 65.5%. In the United States, 65,300 metric tons of CCA solution were used in 1996.[76]

Chromium(III) salts, especially chrome alum and chromium(III) sulfate, are used in the tanning of leather. The chromium(III) stabilizes the leather by cross linking the collagen fibers.[77] Chromium tanned leather can contain between 4 and 5% of chromium, which is tightly bound to the proteins.[39] Although the form of chromium used for tanning is not the toxic hexavalent variety, there remains interest in management of chromium in the tanning industry. Recovery and reuse, direct/indirect recycling,[78] and "chrome-less" or "chrome-free" tanning are practiced to better manage chromium usage.[79]

The high heat resistivity and high melting point makes chromite and chromium(III) oxide a material for high temperature refractory applications, like blast furnaces, cement kilns, molds for the firing of bricks and as foundry sands for the casting of metals. In these applications, the refractory materials are made from mixtures of chromite and magnesite. The use is declining because of the environmental regulations due to the possibility of the formation of chromium(VI).[57] [80]

Several chromium compounds are used as catalysts for processing hydrocarbons. For example, the Phillips catalyst, prepared from chromium oxides, is used for the production of about half the world's polyethylene.[81] Fe-Cr mixed oxides are employed as high-temperature catalysts for the water gas shift reaction.[82][83] Copper chromite is a useful hydrogenation catalyst.[84]

Chromates of metals are used in humistor.[85]

Uses of compounds

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Chemical industry

Chemical industry

The chemical industry comprises the companies that produce industrial chemicals. Central to the modern world economy, it converts raw materials into more than 70,000 different products. The plastics industry contains some overlap, as some chemical companies produce plastics as well as chemicals.

Refractory

Refractory

In materials science, a refractory material or refractory is a material that is resistant to decomposition by heat, pressure, or chemical attack, and retains strength and form at high temperatures. Refractories are polycrystalline, polyphase, inorganic, non-metallic, porous, and heterogeneous. They are typically composed of oxides or carbides, nitrides etc. of the following materials: silicon, aluminium, magnesium, calcium, boron, chromium and zirconium.

Foundry

Foundry

A foundry is a factory that produces metal castings. Metals are cast into shapes by melting them into a liquid, pouring the metal into a mold, and removing the mold material after the metal has solidified as it cools. The most common metals processed are aluminum and cast iron. However, other metals, such as bronze, brass, steel, magnesium, and zinc, are also used to produce castings in foundries. In this process, parts of desired shapes and sizes can be formed.

Chrome plating

Chrome plating

Chrome plating is a technique of electroplating a thin layer of chromium onto a metal object. A chrome-plated item is called chrome. The chromed layer can be decorative, provide corrosion resistance, ease of cleaning, or increase surface hardness. Sometimes, a less expensive imitator of chrome may be used for aesthetic purposes.

High-speed steel

High-speed steel

High-speed steel is a subset of tool steels, commonly used as cutting tool material.

Iron

Iron

Iron is a chemical element with symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal that belongs to the first transition series and group 8 of the periodic table. It is, by mass, the most common element on Earth, right in front of oxygen, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust.

Inconel

Inconel

Inconel is a registered trademark of Special Metals Corporation for a family of austenitic nickel-chromium-based superalloys.

Jet engine

Jet engine

A jet engine is a type of reaction engine discharging a fast-moving jet that generates thrust by jet propulsion. While this broad definition can include rocket, water jet, and hybrid propulsion, the term jet engine typically refers to an internal combustion airbreathing jet engine such as a turbojet, turbofan, ramjet, or pulse jet. In general, jet engines are internal combustion engines.

Gas turbine

Gas turbine

A gas turbine, also called a combustion turbine, is a type of continuous flow internal combustion engine. The main parts common to all gas turbine engines form the power-producing part and are, in the direction of flow:a rotating gas compressor a combustor a compressor-driving turbine.

American Iron and Steel Institute

American Iron and Steel Institute

The American Iron and Steel Institute is an association of North American steel producers. With its predecessor organizations, is one of the oldest trade associations in the United States, dating back to 1855. It assumed its present form in 1908, with Judge Elbert H. Gary, chairman of the United States Steel Corporation, as its first president. Its development was in response to the need for a cooperative agency in the iron and steel industry for collecting and disseminating statistics and information, carrying on investigations, providing a forum for the discussion of problems and generally advancing the interests of the industry.

Corrosion

Corrosion

Corrosion is a natural process that converts a refined metal into a more chemically stable oxide. It is the gradual deterioration of materials by chemical or electrochemical reaction with their environment. Corrosion engineering is the field dedicated to controlling and preventing corrosion.

Incoloy

Incoloy

Incoloy refers to a range of superalloys now produced by the Special Metals Corporation (SMC) group of companies and created with a trademark by the Inco company in 1952. Originally Inco protected these alloys by patent. In 2000, the SMC published a 61-page document entitled "High-Performance Alloys for Resistance to Aqueous Corrosion" highlighting Incoloy, as well as Monel and Inconel products, and their use in fluid environments such as sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, hydrofluoric acid, phosphoric acid, nitric acid, other acids as well as freshwater environments.

Biological role

The biologically beneficial effects of chromium(III) are debated.[94][95] Chromium is accepted by the U.S. National Institutes of Health as a trace element for its roles in the action of insulin, a hormone that mediates the metabolism and storage of carbohydrate, fat, and protein.[7] The mechanism of its actions in the body, however, have not been defined, leaving in question the essentiality of chromium.[96][97]

In contrast, hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI) or Cr6+) is highly toxic and mutagenic.[98] Ingestion of chromium(VI) in water has been linked to stomach tumors, and it may also cause allergic contact dermatitis (ACD).[99]

"Chromium deficiency", involving a lack of Cr(III) in the body, or perhaps some complex of it, such as glucose tolerance factor, is controversial.[7] Some studies suggest that the biologically active form of chromium (III) is transported in the body via an oligopeptide called low-molecular-weight chromium-binding substance (LMWCr), which might play a role in the insulin signaling pathway.[100]

The chromium content of common foods is generally low (1-13 micrograms per serving).[7][101] The chromium content of food varies widely, due to differences in soil mineral content, growing season, plant cultivar, and contamination during processing.[101] Chromium (and nickel) leach into food cooked in stainless steel, with the effect being largest when the cookware is new. Acidic foods that are cooked for many hours also exacerbate this effect.[102][103]

Dietary recommendations

There is disagreement on chromium's status as an essential nutrient. Governmental departments from Australia, New Zealand, India, Japan, and the United States consider chromium essential[104][105][106][107] while the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) of the European Union does not.[108]

The U.S. National Academy of Medicine (NAM) updated the Estimated Average Requirements (EARs) and the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for chromium in 2001. For chromium, there was insufficient information to set EARs and RDAs, so its needs are described as estimates for Adequate Intakes (AIs). The current AIs of chromium for women ages 14 through 50 is 25 μg/day, and the AIs for women ages 50 and above is 20 μg/day. The AIs for women who are pregnant are 30 μg/day, and for women who are lactating, the set AIs are 45 μg/day. The AIs for men ages 14 through 50 are 35 μg/day, and the AIs for men ages 50 and above are 30 μg/day. For children ages 1 through 13, the AIs increase with age from 0.2 μg/day up to 25 μg/day. As for safety, the NAM sets Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (ULs) for vitamins and minerals when the evidence is sufficient. In the case of chromium, there is not yet enough information, hence no UL has been established. Collectively, the EARs, RDAs, AIs, and ULs are the parameters for the nutrition recommendation system known as Dietary Reference Intake (DRI).[107] Australia and New Zealand consider chromium to be an essential nutrient, with an AI of 35 μg/day for men, 25 μg/day for women, 30 μg/day for women who are pregnant, and 45 μg/day for women who are lactating. A UL has not been set due to the lack of sufficient data.[104] India considers chromium to be an essential nutrient, with an adult recommended intake of 33 μg/day.[105] Japan also considers chromium to be an essential nutrient, with an AI of 10 μg/day for adults, including women who are pregnant or lactating. A UL has not been set.[106] The EFSA of the European Union however, does not consider chromium to be an essential nutrient; chromium is the only mineral for which the United States and the European Union disagree.[108][109]

Labeling

For U.S. food and dietary supplement labeling purposes, the amount of the substance in a serving is expressed as a percent of the Daily Value (%DV). For chromium labeling purposes, 100% of the Daily Value was 120 μg. As of May 27, 2016, the percentage of daily value was revised to 35 μg to bring the chromium intake into a consensus with the official Recommended Dietary Allowance.[110][111] A table of the old and new adult daily values is provided at Reference Daily Intake.

Food sources

Food composition databases such as those maintained by the U.S. Department of Agriculture do not contain information on the chromium content of foods.[112] A wide variety of animal and vegetable foods contain chromium.[107] Content per serving is influenced by the chromium content of the soil in which the plants are grown, by foodstuffs fed to animals, and by processing methods, as chromium is leached into foods if processed or cooked in stainless steel equipment.[113] One diet analysis study conducted in Mexico reported an average daily chromium intake of 30 micrograms.[114] An estimated 31% of adults in the United States consume multi-vitamin/mineral dietary supplements,[115] which often contain 25 to 60 micrograms of chromium.

Supplementation

Chromium is an ingredient in total parenteral nutrition (TPN), because deficiency can occur after months of intravenous feeding with chromium-free TPN.[116] It is also added to nutritional products for preterm infants.[117] Although the mechanism of action in biological roles for chromium is unclear, in the United States chromium-containing products are sold as non-prescription dietary supplements in amounts ranging from 50 to 1,000 μg. Lower amounts of chromium are also often incorporated into multi-vitamin/mineral supplements consumed by an estimated 31% of adults in the United States.[115] Chemical compounds used in dietary supplements include chromium chloride, chromium citrate, chromium(III) picolinate, chromium(III) polynicotinate, and other chemical compositions.[7] The benefit of supplements has not been proven.[7][118]

Approved and disapproved health claims

In 2005, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had approved a qualified health claim for chromium picolinate with a requirement for very specific label wording: "One small study suggests that chromium picolinate may reduce the risk of insulin resistance, and therefore possibly may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. FDA concludes, however, that the existence of such a relationship between chromium picolinate and either insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes is highly uncertain." At the same time, in answer to other parts of the petition, the FDA rejected claims for chromium picolinate and cardiovascular disease, retinopathy or kidney disease caused by abnormally high blood sugar levels.[119] In 2010, chromium(III) picolinate was approved by Health Canada to be used in dietary supplements. Approved labeling statements include: a factor in the maintenance of good health, provides support for healthy glucose metabolism, helps the body to metabolize carbohydrates and helps the body to metabolize fats.[120] The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) approved claims in 2010 that chromium contributed to normal macronutrient metabolism and maintenance of normal blood glucose concentration, but rejected claims for maintenance or achievement of a normal body weight, or reduction of tiredness or fatigue.[121]

Given the evidence for chromium deficiency causing problems with glucose management in the context of intravenous nutrition products formulated without chromium,[116] research interest turned to whether chromium supplementation would benefit people who have type 2 diabetes but are not chromium deficient. Looking at the results from four meta-analyses, one reported a statistically significant decrease in fasting plasma glucose levels (FPG) and a non-significant trend in lower hemoglobin A1C.[122] A second reported the same,[123] a third reported significant decreases for both measures,[124] while a fourth reported no benefit for either.[125] A review published in 2016 listed 53 randomized clinical trials that were included in one or more of six meta-analyses. It concluded that whereas there may be modest decreases in FPG and/or HbA1C that achieve statistical significance in some of these meta-analyses, few of the trials achieved decreases large enough to be expected to be relevant to clinical outcome.[126]

Two systematic reviews looked at chromium supplements as a mean of managing body weight in overweight and obese people. One, limited to chromium picolinate, a popular supplement ingredient, reported a statistically significant −1.1 kg (2.4 lb) weight loss in trials longer than 12 weeks.[127] The other included all chromium compounds and reported a statistically significant −0.50 kg (1.1 lb) weight change.[128] Change in percent body fat did not reach statistical significance. Authors of both reviews considered the clinical relevance of this modest weight loss as uncertain/unreliable.[127][128] The European Food Safety Authority reviewed the literature and concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support a claim.[121]

Chromium is promoted as a sports performance dietary supplement, based on the theory that it potentiates insulin activity, with anticipated results of increased muscle mass, and faster recovery of glycogen storage during post-exercise recovery.[118][129][130] A review of clinical trials reported that chromium supplementation did not improve exercise performance or increase muscle strength.[131] The International Olympic Committee reviewed dietary supplements for high-performance athletes in 2018 and concluded there was no need to increase chromium intake for athletes, nor support for claims of losing body fat.[132]

Fresh-water fish

Chromium is naturally present in the environment in trace amounts, but industrial use in rubber and stainless steel manufacturing, chrome plating, dyes for textiles, tanneries and other uses contaminates aquatic systems. In Bangladesh, rivers in or downstream from industrialized areas exhibit heavy metal contamination. Irrigation water standards for chromium are 0.1 mg/L, but some rivers are more than five times that amount. The standard for fish for human consumption is less than 1 mg/kg, but many tested samples were more than five times that amount.[133] Chromium, especially hexavalent chromium, is highly toxic to fish because it is easily absorbed across the gills, readily enters blood circulation, crosses cell membranes and bioconcentrates up the food chain. In contrast, the toxicity of trivalent chromium is very low, attributed to poor membrane permeability and little biomagnification.[134]

Acute and chronic exposure to chromium(VI) affects fish behavior, physiology, reproduction and survival. Hyperactivity and erratic swimming have been reported in contaminated environments. Egg hatching and fingerling survival are affected. In adult fish there are reports of histopathological damage to liver, kidney, muscle, intestines, and gills. Mechanisms include mutagenic gene damage and disruptions of enzyme functions.[134]

There is evidence that fish may not require chromium, but benefit from a measured amount in diet. In one study, juvenile fish gained weight on a zero chromium diet, but the addition of 500 μg of chromium in the form of chromium chloride or other supplement types, per kilogram of food (dry weight), increased weight gain. At 2,000 μg/kg the weight gain was no better than with the zero chromium diet, and there were increased DNA strand breaks.[135]

Discover more about Biological role related topics

Chromium in glucose metabolism

Chromium in glucose metabolism

Chromium is claimed to be an essential element involved in the regulation of blood glucose levels within the body. More recent reviews have questioned this, however.

Insulin

Insulin

Insulin is a peptide hormone produced by beta cells of the pancreatic islets encoded in humans by the INS gene. It is considered to be the main anabolic hormone of the body. It regulates the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and protein by promoting the absorption of glucose from the blood into liver, fat and skeletal muscle cells. In these tissues the absorbed glucose is converted into either glycogen via glycogenesis or fats (triglycerides) via lipogenesis, or, in the case of the liver, into both. Glucose production and secretion by the liver is strongly inhibited by high concentrations of insulin in the blood. Circulating insulin also affects the synthesis of proteins in a wide variety of tissues. It is therefore an anabolic hormone, promoting the conversion of small molecules in the blood into large molecules inside the cells. Low insulin levels in the blood have the opposite effect by promoting widespread catabolism, especially of reserve body fat.

Hexavalent chromium

Hexavalent chromium

Hexavalent chromium is chromium in any chemical compound that contains the element in the +6 oxidation state. Virtually all chromium ore is processed via hexavalent chromium, specifically the salt sodium dichromate. Hexavalent chromium is key to all materials made from chromium. Approximately 136,000 tonnes of hexavalent chromium were produced in 1985.

Mutagen

Mutagen

In genetics, a mutagen is a physical or chemical agent that permanently changes genetic material, usually DNA, in an organism and thus increases the frequency of mutations above the natural background level. As many mutations can cause cancer in animals, such mutagens can therefore be carcinogens, although not all necessarily are. All mutagens have characteristic mutational signatures with some chemicals becoming mutagenic through cellular processes.

Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a type of acute or chronic inflammation of the skin caused by exposure to chemical or physical agents. Symptoms of contact dermatitis can include itchy or dry skin, a red rash, bumps, blisters, or swelling. These rashes are not contagious or life-threatening, but can be very uncomfortable.

Chromium deficiency

Chromium deficiency

Chromium deficiency is described as the consequence of an insufficient dietary intake of the mineral chromium. Chromium was first proposed as an essential element for normal glucose metabolism in 1959, and was widely accepted as being such by the 1990s. Cases of deficiency were described in people who received all of their nutrition intravenously for long periods of time.

Low-molecular-weight chromium-binding substance

Low-molecular-weight chromium-binding substance

Low-molecular-weight chromium-binding substance (LMWCr; also known as chromodulin) is an oligopeptide that seems to transport chromium in the body. It consists of four amino acid residues; aspartate, cysteine, glutamate, and glycine, bonded with four (Cr3+) centers. It interacts with the insulin receptor, by prolonging kinase activity through stimulating the tyrosine kinase pathway, thus leading to improved glucose absorption. and has been confused with glucose tolerance factor.

Cultivar

Cultivar

A cultivar is a type of cultivated plant that people have selected for desired traits and when propagated retain those traits. Methods used to propagate cultivars include: division, root and stem cuttings, offsets, grafting, tissue culture, or carefully controlled seed production. Most cultivars arise from purposeful human manipulation, but some originate from wild plants that have distinctive characteristics. Cultivar names are chosen according to rules of the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants (ICNCP), and not all cultivated plants qualify as cultivars. Horticulturists generally believe the word cultivar was coined as a term meaning "cultivated variety".

European Food Safety Authority

European Food Safety Authority

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is the agency of the European Union (EU) that provides independent scientific advice and communicates on existing and emerging risks associated with the food chain. EFSA was established in February 2002, is based in Parma, Italy, and for 2021 it has a budget of €118.6 million, and a total staff of 542.

National Academy of Medicine

National Academy of Medicine

The National Academy of Medicine (NAM), formerly called the Institute of Medicine (IoM) until 2015, is an American nonprofit, non-governmental organization. The National Academy of Medicine is a part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, along with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), National Academy of Engineering (NAE), and the National Research Council (NRC).

Dietary Reference Intake

Dietary Reference Intake

The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) is a system of nutrition recommendations from the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) of the National Academies. It was introduced in 1997 in order to broaden the existing guidelines known as Recommended Dietary Allowances. The DRI values differ from those used in nutrition labeling on food and dietary supplement products in the U.S. and Canada, which uses Reference Daily Intakes (RDIs) and Daily Values (%DV) which were based on outdated RDAs from 1968 but were updated as of 2016.

European Union

European Union

The European Union (EU) is a supranational political and economic union of 27 member states that are located primarily in Europe. The union has a total area of 4,233,255.3 km2 (1,634,469.0 sq mi) and an estimated total population of about 447 million. The EU has often been described as a sui generis political entity combining the characteristics of both a federation and a confederation.

Precautions

Water-insoluble chromium(III) compounds and chromium metal are not considered a health hazard, while the toxicity and carcinogenic properties of chromium(VI) have been known for a long time.[136] Because of the specific transport mechanisms, only limited amounts of chromium(III) enter the cells. Acute oral toxicity ranges between 50 and 150 mg/kg.[137] A 2008 review suggested that moderate uptake of chromium(III) through dietary supplements poses no genetic-toxic risk.[138] In the US, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has designated an air permissible exposure limit (PEL) in the workplace as a time-weighted average (TWA) of 1 mg/m3. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has set a recommended exposure limit (REL) of 0.5 mg/m3, time-weighted average. The IDLH (immediately dangerous to life and health) value is 250 mg/m3.[139]

Chromium(VI) toxicity

The acute oral toxicity for chromium(VI) ranges between 1.5 and 3.3 mg/kg.[137] In the body, chromium(VI) is reduced by several mechanisms to chromium(III) already in the blood before it enters the cells. The chromium(III) is excreted from the body, whereas the chromate ion is transferred into the cell by a transport mechanism, by which also sulfate and phosphate ions enter the cell. The acute toxicity of chromium(VI) is due to its strong oxidant properties. After it reaches the blood stream, it damages the kidneys, the liver and blood cells through oxidation reactions. Hemolysis, renal, and liver failure result. Aggressive dialysis can be therapeutic.[140]

The carcinogenity of chromate dust has been known for a long time, and in 1890 the first publication described the elevated cancer risk of workers in a chromate dye company.[141][142] Three mechanisms have been proposed to describe the genotoxicity of chromium(VI). The first mechanism includes highly reactive hydroxyl radicals and other reactive radicals which are by products of the reduction of chromium(VI) to chromium(III). The second process includes the direct binding of chromium(V), produced by reduction in the cell, and chromium(IV) compounds to the DNA. The last mechanism attributed the genotoxicity to the binding to the DNA of the end product of the chromium(III) reduction.[143][144]

Chromium salts (chromates) are also the cause of allergic reactions in some people. Chromates are often used to manufacture, amongst other things, leather products, paints, cement, mortar and anti-corrosives. Contact with products containing chromates can lead to allergic contact dermatitis and irritant dermatitis, resulting in ulceration of the skin, sometimes referred to as "chrome ulcers". This condition is often found in workers that have been exposed to strong chromate solutions in electroplating, tanning and chrome-producing manufacturers.[145][146]

Environmental issues

Because chromium compounds were used in dyes, paints, and leather tanning compounds, these compounds are often found in soil and groundwater at active and abandoned industrial sites, needing environmental cleanup and remediation. Primer paint containing hexavalent chromium is still widely used for aerospace and automobile refinishing applications.[147]

In 2010, the Environmental Working Group studied the drinking water in 35 American cities in the first nationwide study. The study found measurable hexavalent chromium in the tap water of 31 of the cities sampled, with Norman, Oklahoma, at the top of list; 25 cities had levels that exceeded California's proposed limit.[148]

The more toxic hexavalent chromium form can be reduced to the less soluble trivalent oxidation state in soils by organic matter, ferrous iron, sulfides, and other reducing agents, with the rates of such reduction being faster under more acidic conditions than under more alkaline ones. In contrast, trivalent chromium can be oxidized to hexavalent chromium in soils by manganese oxides, such as Mn(III) and Mn(IV) compounds. Since the solubility and toxicity of chromium (VI) are greater that those of chromium (III), the oxidation-reduction conversions between the two oxidation states have implications for movement and bioavailability of chromium in soils, groundwater, and plants.[149]

Discover more about Precautions related topics

Chromium toxicity

Chromium toxicity

Chromium toxicity refers to any poisonous toxic effect in an organism or cell that results from exposure to specific forms of chromium—especially hexavalent chromium. Hexavalent chromium and its compounds are toxic when inhaled or ingested. Trivalent chromium is a trace mineral that is essential to human nutrition. There is a hypothetical risk of genotoxicity in humans if large amounts of trivalent chromium were somehow able to enter living cells, but normal metabolism and cell function prevent this.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is a large regulatory agency of the United States Department of Labor that originally had federal visitorial powers to inspect and examine workplaces. Congress established the agency under the Occupational Safety and Health Act OSH Act, which President Richard M. Nixon signed into law on December 29, 1970. OSHA's mission is to "assure safe and healthy working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance". The agency is also charged with enforcing a variety of whistleblower statutes and regulations. OSHA's workplace safety inspections have been shown to reduce injury rates and injury costs without adverse effects on employment, sales, credit ratings, or firm survival.

Permissible exposure limit

Permissible exposure limit

The permissible exposure limit is a legal limit in the United States for exposure of an employee to a chemical substance or physical agent such as high level noise. Permissible exposure limits are established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Most of OSHA's PELs were issued shortly after adoption of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act in 1970.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is the United States federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related injury and illness. NIOSH is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Despite its name, it is not part of the National Institutes of Health. Its current director is John Howard.

Recommended exposure limit

Recommended exposure limit

A recommended exposure limit (REL) is an occupational exposure limit that has been recommended by the United States National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The REL is a level that NIOSH believes would be protective of worker safety and health over a working lifetime if used in combination with engineering and work practice controls, exposure and medical monitoring, posting and labeling of hazards, worker training and personal protective equipment. To formulate these recommendations, NIOSH evaluates all known and available medical, biological, engineering, chemical, trade, and other information. Although not legally enforceable limits, RELS are transmitted to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) of the U.S. Department of Labor for use in promulgating legal standards.

Mouth

Mouth

In animal anatomy, the mouth, also known as the oral cavity, or in Latin cavum oris, is the opening through which many animals take in food and issue vocal sounds. It is also the cavity lying at the upper end of the alimentary canal, bounded on the outside by the lips and inside by the pharynx. In tetrapods, it contains the tongue and, except for some like birds, teeth. This cavity is also known as the buccal cavity, from the Latin bucca ("cheek").

Hexavalent chromium

Hexavalent chromium

Hexavalent chromium is chromium in any chemical compound that contains the element in the +6 oxidation state. Virtually all chromium ore is processed via hexavalent chromium, specifically the salt sodium dichromate. Hexavalent chromium is key to all materials made from chromium. Approximately 136,000 tonnes of hexavalent chromium were produced in 1985.

Phosphate

Phosphate

In chemistry, a phosphate is an anion, salt, functional group or ester derived from a phosphoric acid. It most commonly means orthophosphate, a derivative of orthophosphoric acid H3PO4.

Hemolysis

Hemolysis

Hemolysis or haemolysis, also known by several other names, is the rupturing (lysis) of red blood cells (erythrocytes) and the release of their contents (cytoplasm) into surrounding fluid. Hemolysis may occur in vivo or in vitro.

Genotoxicity

Genotoxicity

Genotoxicity is the property of chemical agents that damage the genetic information within a cell causing mutations, which may lead to cancer. While genotoxicity is often confused with mutagenicity, all mutagens are genotoxic, but some genotoxic substances are not mutagenic. The alteration can have direct or indirect effects on the DNA: the induction of mutations, mistimed event activation, and direct DNA damage leading to mutations. The permanent, heritable changes can affect either somatic cells of the organism or germ cells to be passed on to future generations. Cells prevent expression of the genotoxic mutation by either DNA repair or apoptosis; however, the damage may not always be fixed leading to mutagenesis.

Hydroxyl radical

Hydroxyl radical

The hydroxyl radical is the diatomic molecule •OH. The hydroxyl radical is very stable as a dilute gas, but it decays very rapidly in the condensed phase. It is pervasive in some situations. Most notably the hydroxyl radicals are produced from the decomposition of hydroperoxides (ROOH) or, in atmospheric chemistry, by the reaction of excited atomic oxygen with water. It is also important in the field of radiation chemistry, since it leads to the formation of hydrogen peroxide and oxygen, which can enhance corrosion and SCC in coolant systems subjected to radioactive environments.

DNA

DNA

Deoxyribonucleic acid is a polymer composed of two polynucleotide chains that coil around each other to form a double helix. The polymer carries genetic instructions for the development, functioning, growth and reproduction of all known organisms and many viruses. DNA and ribonucleic acid (RNA) are nucleic acids. Alongside proteins, lipids and complex carbohydrates (polysaccharides), nucleic acids are one of the four major types of macromolecules that are essential for all known forms of life.

Source: "Chromium", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2022, November 26th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromium.

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Notes
  1. ^ The melting/boiling point of transition metals are usually higher compared to the alkali metals, alkaline earth metals, and nonmetals, which is why the range of elements compared to chromium differed between comparisons
  2. ^ Most common oxidation states of chromium are in bold. The right column lists a representative compound for each oxidation state.
  3. ^ Any color of corundum (disregarding red) is known as a sapphire. If the corundum is red, then it is a ruby. Sapphires are not required to be blue corundum crystals, as sapphires can be other colors such as yellow and purple
  4. ^ When Cr3+
    replaces Al3+
    in corundum (aluminium oxide, Al2O3), pink sapphire or ruby is formed, depending on the amount of chromium.
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