Posted: 19 Apr '17

Curbing the Danger of Hexavalent Chrome: Capturing Particulates at the Source

Curbing the Danger of Hexavalent Chrome: Capturing Particulates at the Source

Chrome is used in many common workplace materials for its unique chemical properties that make it resistant to corrosion and heat. Common examples of Chrome-containing materials are stainless steel and metal coatings. These materials are not inherently dangerous, but certain workplace operations can cause Chrome to be released into the air as hexavalent Chrome. When inhaled, hexavalent Chrome poses a serious threat to one's respiratory health and can cause several diseases including cancer.

The Dangers of Hexavalent Chrome

The best way to fight the effects of Chrome exposure are to prevent the exposure from occurring in the first place, by capturing the harmful particulates at the source. The most common causes of hexavalent Chrome fumes include hot work such as welding, as well as metal and thermal spraying. Both activities are highly localized, which means even a smaller ventilation system can be very effective in keeping your workplace safe, but they also produce uniquely difficult-to-capture fumes and require filters expertly specialized to the task you are performing.

Welding

When welding is performed on metals containing Chrome, it converts the Chrome into its gaseous form as hexavalent Chrome. It is effective and necessary to clean this harmful air at the source. While most filters will appear to take in smoke and output clean air, many particles such as hexavalent Chrome are invisible to the eye. Highly specialized filtration mediums are required to ensure your ventilation systems do not simply disperse harmful chemicals throughout your work environment, and instead capture it to be disposed of safely.

Metal spraying

Metal spraying is a process in which metal containing powders or wires are fed into a flame, turned molten, and then atomized by compressed air and sprayed onto the surface of other metals as coatings. Certain Chrome compounds, such as Chrome carbide, are common inputs for this process as they can donate the heat and corrosion resistant traits to the surface of the metal they are sprayed onto. These activities can produce fumes including airborne particles as small as 1/1000 the width of a human hair. Capturing these particles requires more than just good ventilation; highly specialized filtration is also imperative to prevent the spread of the fumes.

Filter Types

Choosing the right filtration to keep your workplace safe involves examining the environment it, the types of operations being performed, the ventilation system that will be used, and the filtration technologies available. The options can range from temporary, depth loading filters, to longer term, surface loading filters. Each filter has a different Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value and will be effective in different situations, so it is critical to engage an expert to ensure your workplace gets the filtration technology that fits.

To make sure your workplace is safe for your workers and the environment, it is critical to capture harmful particles like hexavalent Chrome at the source, before they become dispersed among your workplace and the surrounding areas. Contact Innovative Ventilation Systems today to make sure you get the equipment to keep your work environment comfortable and healthy.