What precautions should be taken when working with the compound Chromium Trioxide?

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Chromium Trioxide is a compound composed of Chromium and Oxygen (CrO^3). It is not organic and is non-soluble in water, and can cause burns to human skin and internal membranes. The chief use for Chromium Trioxide is electroplating metals, often for decorative purposes, as it applies Chromium in a stable form that can be highly polished. It is often seen in car and motorcycle manufacturing plants.

To electroplate a metal with Chromium, the compound must be dissolved in a bath of Sulfate (SO^4), which allows the Chromium to passively plate without otherwise reacting, as Chromium Trioxide can burn violently when exposed to organic material. A current run through the bath attracts Chromium Ions to the host metal. All the chemicals involved are highly toxic, and workers should take the necessary precautions, including but not limited to:

  1. Proper eye protection: full face protection for the mouth and nose is also recommended, because fumes can burn the eyes, mouth, and mucus membranes.
  2. Fume removal: all work with these substances should be done in an open, well-ventilated space, and it is recommended to have a powerful fan or a fume hood over the workspace to dissipate any dust or particulates that escape into the air.
  3. Gloves and aprons: several designs of chemical gloves and aprons are available, and neither Chromium Trioxide or Sulfates should be allowed to touch bare skin, as it will cause severe burns and scarring.
  4. Proper training: no work with these substances should be attempted without a properly conducted course in handling and disposal, as well as a safety training course to ensure that all materials are treated with care.

As with any toxic substance, Chromium Trioxide can be dangerous or deadly if not handled properly. Facilities that specialize in Chrome Plating should make regular safety inspections to ensure that all workers, tools, and machinery are up to OSHA standards.


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