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What is potassium dichromate?

Potassium dichromate is a chromium salt or chromate and is a common metal making up a significant part of the earth’s crust. Chromium and chromates occur naturally in our environment, including soil and water. They are also commonly found in products made of chrome and stainless steel, cement and leather.

Where is potassium dichromate found?

At work, you may find chromates or chromium in:

  • Construction materials such as cement,mortar, concrete, bricks, plaster, drywall
  • Leather tanning and product manufacturing
  • Primers and chromate-based pigments in paints
  • Cutting oils, corrosion inhibitors, oils, fuels and drilling muds
  • Liners in high temperature industrial furnaces
  • Pyrotechnics
  • Printing inks
  • Manufacturing, plating and metal working with chrome alloys and stainless steel
  • Orthopedic and dental implants, dental prosthesis
  • Chrome alloy welding fumes
  • Wood preservative manufacturingGreen dyes used in felt and textiles
  • Chromic surgical gut sutures

At home, you may find chromates or chromium in:

  • Orthopedic and dental implants, dental prosthesis
  • Leather products including shoes, boots, gloves
  • Pigments in inks and paints
  • Construction materials such as cement, mortar, concrete, bricks, plaster, drywall
  • Green dyes used in felt and textiles
  • Make up
  • Foods and vitamin supplements
  • Pressure-treated wood
  • Household repair materials

How can you avoid potassium dichromate?

  • Allergic skin reactions to chromates (or chromium) can become severe and chronic. Because of this, it’s important to avoid touching chromates or inhaling chrome alloy fumes or getting them on your clothing.
  • Only use products that do not list chromates (or chromium) or related chemicals on the label, ingredients list or Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). If there is no information, contact the product manufacturer.
  • Avoid tanned leather products unless vegetable tannins have been used. Use instead vegetable tanned leather shoes or plastic shoes. For those with shoe dermatitis from chromate and leather, wearing heavy socks and reducing perspiration and moisture may help to reduce dermatitis.
  • Do not handle burnt matches or ash. Use a lighter instead.
  • In the workplace, avoid wet cemant and mortar. Even the dust or fumes from chromate-containing products should be avoided. Chromate reduced cement added ferrous sulfate is an alternative. Change oils and cutting fluids often in machine work.
  • Tell your physician, pharmacist, dentist, veterinarian, beautician and hairdresser that you are allergic to chromates (or chromium). Ask for preparations that do not contain chromates or related substances.
  • Wear protective gloves and clothing. Heavy-duty and utility gloves made of natural or synthetic rubber, or vinyl, may provide enough protection for working with products that contain chromates (or chromium). Heavy-duty fabric or canvas gloves may be substituted for leather gloves.
  • If you think that you contact chromates (or chromium) at work, ask your employer forMSDS or manufacturer information on the product(s). Talk to your employer about using a different product or wearing protective gloves and clothing.

What should you look for and avoid in products?

Avoid products that list any of the following names in the ingredients,MSDS or package insert:

  • Potassiumdichromate or dipotassium dichromate (or bichromate); chromium compounds; chromium and chromium salts; chromium metal or chrome; chromic acid salts

The best way to treat your allergy is avoidance.


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