Chrome is a potential cause of occupational asthma, where it can be inhaled. This happens when electroplating, powder burning, arc air gauging and welding stainless steel.
Occupational asthma to chrome can occur within the current exposure standards and there may be cross reactivity with nickel. Inhalation challenge with nebulised potassium dichromate solution is helpful in making the specific diagnosis where doubt exists
We have seen an outbreak of occupational asthma, probably due to chrome, in a foundry making large castings predominantly from stainless steel. Chrome fumes have been a regular cause of reports to Shield in the West Midlands, UK.
Preventative measures include extraction and respiratory protective equipment (RPE). Workers not directly exposed can be protected by enclosing areas where the chrome fume is produced.
The Oasys Audit scheme started midway through 2010 and collects agents typed in through the Oasys program. The years before 2010 show old data entered during 2010 or later and are likely to have many fewer notifications. We expect Oasys to become more widely adopted as time goes by so increasing notifications does not necessarily mean an increasing problem.