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Chromium Toxicity
What Instructions Should Be Given to Patients Exposed to Chromium?

Course: WB 1466
CE Original Date: December 18, 2008
CE Renewal Date: December 18, 2011
CE Expiration Date: December 18, 2013
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Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this section, you will be able to

  • describe patient self care, and
  • describe clinical follow-up.


Cr(VI) compounds are widely used in the chemical industry as ingredients and catalysts in pigments, metal plating and chemical synthesis. Cr(VI) can also be produced when welding on stainless steel or Cr(VI)-painted surfaces.

The major health effects associated with exposure to Cr(VI) include lung cancer, nasal septum ulcerations and perforations, skin ulcerations, and allergic and irritant contact dermatitis.

All patients exposed to chromium need some basic guidance on

  • self care, so they can minimize further risks and avoid complications to the extent possible and
  • clinical follow up, so they understand when and why to return for further medical attention.

Self Care

Effective steps patients should be advised to take to prevent and eliminate exposure.

  • Wear proper personal protective equipment such as respiratory protection, protective clothing, eye protection, and gloves.
  • Maintain a clean work area free of dust.
  • Shower and change clothes immediately on completion of work.
  • Leave or dispose of contaminated clothing at the work site.
  • Do not track dust from the work area to the rest of the home.
  • Do not smoke, eat, or drink in the work area.
  • Wash hands well before eating, drinking, or smoking.
  • Heed employer provided patient and worker education.
  • If a smoker, stop smoking.

Clinical Follow-Up

Patients should be advised to call if they develop any of the following symptoms:

  • symptoms of kidney dysfunction such as lower extremity swelling, reduced urine volume, changes in color of urine, etc.,
  • dyspnea, cough, wheezing,
  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea,
  • yellowing of the teeth,
  • altered sense of smell, and
  • if you suspect you have been exposed.

Key Points

  • Patients should be advised to avoid exposures and conditions that might further increase their risk of disease or worsen their existing condition.
  • Patients should contact their physician if they develop respiratory or gastrointestinal problems or other health changes.

Progress Check

15. Patients who have been exposed to chromium should

A. Seek clinical evaluation and treatment without delay.
B. Learn how to avoid further exposure.
C. Know when to call their doctor.
D. All of the above.


To review relevant content, see Clinical Follow-Up in this section.

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