Chromium and water quality
Chromium: Chromium is ubiquitous in the environment, occurring naturally in the air, water,
rocks and soil. It is used in making stainless steel, electroplating of chrome, dyes, leather tanning and
wood preservatives. It occurs in several forms, or oxidation states with the two most common forms being
chromium VI and chromium III. The form depends on pH. While some industrial wastes contain high levels of chromium, natural sources of water contain very
low concentrations. It is a micronutrient (or essential trace element) that is required for normal body repair and growth. 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 instead of long term effects over time. In animals and humans this toxicity may be expressed as skin lesions or rashes or
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.