Dartmouth Toxic Metal Research: Chromium - A Thoroughly Modern Metal
Hidden in plain sight
with the use of chrome plating in the art deco designs of the
1930s through its heyday in the cars, furniture and appliances
of the 1950s and 1960s, chromium has been closely associated
with the fast-paced modern world. Unlike other metals, chromium
had no ancient or prehistoric uses.
High amounts of chromium are found naturally in two minerals.
The more common, called chromite, is a dark, dull stone that
was easily overlooked. The second, a mineral called crocoite,
is unusual in appearance but extremely rare. Crocoite, also
known as lead chromate, was discovered by a geologist in 1765
at the Beresof mine near Ekaterinburg, Siberia. A brilliant
orange, the mineral was prized by early stone collectors for
its four-sided crystals. Artists also treasured fragments of
crocoite for their beautiful, reddish orange color. But the
ore is too rare to be useful commercially. Chromite, the primary
commercial ore, was not discovered until 1798.