Calcium chromate, chromium trioxide, lead chromate, strontium chromate, and zinc chromate are known human carcinogens. An increase in incidence of lung cancer has been observed among workers in industries that produce chromate and manufacture pigments containing chromate. An increased rate of lung cancer has also been reported among producers and consumers of pigment containing chromate. One study of chromium-nickel alloy foundry workers showed a statistically significant increase in lung cancers.
Cancer: Hexavalent chromium is considered a potential lung carcinogen. Studies of workers in the chromate production, plating, and pigment industries consistently show increased rates of lung cancer.
Eyes: Direct eye contact with chromic acid or chromate dusts can cause permanent eye damage.
Respiratory Tract: Hexavalent chromium can irritate the nose, throat, and lungs. Repeated or prolonged exposure can damage the mucous membranes of the nasal passages and result in ulcers. In severe cases, exposure causes perforation of the septum (the wall separating the nasal passages). Acute exposures may cause perforation of the nasal septum within a week of exposure.
Skin: Prolonged skin contact can result in dermatitis and skin ulcers. Some workers develop an allergic sensitization to chromium. In sensitized workers, contact with even small amounts can cause a serious skin rash. Kidney damage has been linked to high dermal exposures.