Protecting the Consumer and Servicing
the Trade with Independence and Integrity

 New Picture

Chromium VI is a known carcinogen and can also cause skin irritation, corrosion, ulcers, sensitization, and allergic contact dermatitis. It is hazardous both in its airborne form and when a product is in close contact with the skin and is already restricted in some products such as cement to prevent harm to workers.  Chromium VI is also found in leather products and its regulation has been an on-going issue as it has been restricted at different levels by varying national legislation for many years. From early 2015 Chromium will be regulated throughout the EU by the REACH Regulation and all sectors of the supply chain should be aware of the new legislation. The amendment of REACH Annex XVII of (EC) No 1907/2006 regarding Chromium VI compounds in leather articles and articles containing leather parts will restrict Chromium VI content to a very low 3 mg/kg (0.0003%). This is in line with legislation currently in place in European nations such as Germany. New Picture (1) The regulation will impact on a wide range of products such as: Watchstraps, purses, wallets, bags, footwear, gloves, protective wear, garments, hats, belts, braces,  horse riding equipment, dog leads, furniture, car seats and steering wheels. The amendment, which is due to come into force in early 2015 PROHIBITS any leather articles or articles containing leather parts that come into direct, prolonged or repetitive contact with skin which contain greater than 3 mg/kg (0.0003%) of Chromium VI from BEING PLACED ON THE MARKET.  Around 80% of the world’s leather production is tanned with Chromium salts which enable the finished leather to be supple and pliable and suitable to a range of end use products. During leather tanning Chromium III is used to create a highly versatile leather suited to most industries and if the tanning processes are carried out correctly then the resulting leather will be completely safe to use. However it is the presence of Chromium VI which is of concern to the consumer. Chromium VI is not used within the leather tanning process, but its presence may occur by oxidation of Chromium III due to a variety of reasons. For example oxidation of Chromium III can occur with extremely high acidity or temperature. Likewise if chrome powder is sourced from a non-reputable supply then there is a possibility that it may contain Chromium VI as an impurity.

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The Laboratory at The Birmingham Assay Office is UKAS accredited to carry out Chromium VI testing. Testing to the new standard requires experts to be equipped with sophisticated equipment to detect the low levels sufficiently accurately to ensure the product is compliant. The Laboratory at The Birmingham Assay Office has the necessary expertise and resources and  is UKAS accredited to carry out Chromium VI testing. Analysis is carried out by UV/vis determination after derivatisation of an extracted solution and The Laboratory offers a fast turnaround time to help ensure that products are below the legal limit and safe for the market place.  For more information on Chromium VI or any other testing services contact Tim Smith or Steve Franklin on 0871 871 6020 or email  

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