Chromium and water quality

Chromium: Chromium is ubiquitous in the environment, occurring naturally in the air, water, rocks and soil. It is used in stainless steel, electroplating of chrome, dyes, leather tanning and wood preservatives. It occurs in several forms, or oxidation states. The two most common are chromium VI and chromium III. The form depends on pH. Natural sources of water contain very low concentrations of chromium. It is a micronutrient (or essential trace element). High doses of chromium VI have been associated with birth defects and cancer; however, chromium III is not associated with these effects. Plants and animals do not bioaccumulate chromium; therefore, the potential impact of high chromium levels in the environment is acute toxicity to plants and animals. In animals and humans this toxicity may be expressed as skin lesions or rashes and kidney and liver damage.

Criteria: The criteria for total chromium in a domestic water supply is 0.05 mg/L. The aquatic life criteria is less than 0.011 mg/L for chromium VI and less than 0.207 mg/L for chromium III. (The second value is based on a formula involving hardness).

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