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Healthy hands while working with chromium

Supplier: Showa
22 February, 2012

The best glove recommendations for protection from Hexavalent Chromium.

What is Hexavalent Chromium?

Chromium is the 24th element in the periodic table of elements.

Chromium exists in 3 valence states or with 3 charges. No charge at all is metallic chromium. Trivalent chromium is an essential nutrient found in vegetables  and grains and in multivitamins.

We eat, drink and breathe chromium in the trivalent states. Hexavalent or (+6) chromium is generated through oxidation or combustion of the other two forms. Hexavalent chromium is found in welding fumes, chromium plating, Portland Cement.

What is the concern over Hexavalent Chromium?

The fumes of Hexavalent Chromium are breathed in and have been proven to cause lung cancer.

The chromate compounds that are causes of cancer include Calcium Chromate, Sodium Dichromate, Lead Chromate, Strontium Chromate and Zinc Chromate.

These studies performed by EPA and Johns Hopkins found a high incidence of Lung Cancer in chromate workers from a Chromate Production Plant. 23 per cent of deaths from this plant were caused by lung cancer since 1951.

How are workers exposed?

Chromium compounds are found in the following processes that workers are exposed to: chrome plating baths, chrome colours and dyes, cement, tanning agents, wood preservatives, anti-corrosive agents, welding fumes, lubricating oils and greases, cleaning materials and textiles and furs.

Exposure route is always one of the most important factors which determine the Toxic effects. Inhaling Hexavalent Chromium causes lung cancer. Dermal exposure can result in severe contact sensitisation. In fact, chromium is one of the most common sensitisers in industrialised countries.

Portland Cement:

Portland Cement contains traces of Trivalent Chromium from the limestone and other minerals used in it. The Trivalent Chromium is oxidised in kilns.

Portland Cement is estimated to be responsible for 25 per cent or more of work-related skin problems worldwide. Skin problems in masonry workers is 2.5 times the national average.

More than 93 million metric tons of Portland Cement are consumed by the US Construction Industry alone. More than 1.3 million workers are exposed to Portland Cement.

What is the Proper Personal Protective Equipment?

Because of the conclusive findings of cancer in Chromate workers, CDC/NIOSH and OSHA have set extremely low levels of permissible exposure and requirements for respirators with N95 filters.

Building and Construction Trade have sued OSHA because they do not think the levels are low enough to prevent cancer in workers.

Most of the public furore is over respiratory exposure. However, dermal exposure can cause allergic dermatitis that can end a career in the construction trade.

Gloves such as Best NSK 24 and Ultraflex II Neoprene offer excellent comfortable protection from exposure to the caustic corrosive materials and from the traces of Hexavalent Chromium compounds present in wet Portland Cement and from Muriatic Acid used in masonry.

Inappropriate Glove Materials:

Brown Jersey Cotton and Leather gloves are not good enough to protect from exposure to these chemicals.

Neither of the types of gloves provide any liquid protection and should be avoided by construction workers. Polymer coated gloves made from Nitrile, Neoprene, Natural Rubber or PVC gloves should be used.

Gloves that are not fully coated are also inappropriate for wet cement. Fully coated gloves are needed to ensure adequate protection from these wet applications.

What does this mean for Best?

Best has many different chemical resistant products that will protect from exposure of the hands to Hexavalent Chromium.

Although, the main concern is respiratory, the dermal route is extremely important to prevent more occupational sensitisations from dermal exposure of the hands.

The construction industry and trade unions need this information to help protect workers.

Best has products that offer the very best option in chemical resistance, comfort and durability.