Understanding & Controlling Hexavalent Chromium

Did you know that breathing hexavalent chromium is very hazardous? It can cause lung  cancer and damage to the respiratory tract if high amounts are inhaled.  OSHA has an allowable limit based on an 8 hour average of 5 milligrams per cubic meter. NIOSH has an even stricter limit of 0.2 milligrams per cubic meter.  A basic understanding of milligrams per cubic meter is how many particles are in a volume of air space measured in cubic meters.  Hexavalent chromium (CrVI) is produced several different ways in manufacturing. The largest producer of hexavalent chromium is in the welding of stainless steel or chrome painted parts, according to the Federal Registry, it is estimated that 269,379 workers are exposed to Hexavalent Chromium due to welding.  The second largest is painting using a chrome-based paint, which accounts for an estimate of 82,253 workers exposed.  Electroplating is third with an estimate of 66,859 workers.  If you are looking for reference material regarding Hexavalent Chromium, you can search on the Internet; both OSHA and NIOSH have excellent documents regarding regulations.

What are some control measures to reduce the exposure to hexavalent chromium? One measure is to limit the workers exposure to hexavalent chromium and make sure an individual worker doesn’t exceed 5 milligrams per cubic meter during an 8 hour span of time.  A simpler and easier control method is to use one of AER Control Systems fume or dust collectors.  If your manufacturing process is the welding of stainless steel and you need a portable weld fume collector then one of your choices are the Small Portable Collector or SPC unit. If you are looking for more of a central system using ductwork then our Vertical Cartridge Collector or VCF series is a great choice.  If you have limited floor space and you want a ceiling mounted dust collector then our Horizontal Cartridge Collector or HCF-3000 series is the collector for you.  On all of these cartridge collectors, the cartridge filter is 99% efficient at 0.5 microns, more than efficient enough to stop the hexavalent chromium. Even so, AER Control Systems strongly recommends using a HEPA after filter, which has the efficiency of 99.97% at 0.3 micron to absolutely guarantee that you will not be blowing any hexavalent chromium throughout your shop.  The HEPA simply acts as a secondary or backup filter to the cleanable cartridge filter.

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