Chromium, Its Effects and Defects

In life, moderation is essential. A pinch of salt is pleasing to the tongue and beneficial to the body, but add a teaspoon full of salt, and there is trouble. Chromium, a naturally occurring metallic mineral found in raw foods like tomatoes, green beans or orange juice, is essential for maintaining insulin and blood sugar levels.

Two major factors play a role in the Chromium contamination and penetration into the environment and subsequent absorption into the human body. Firstly, chromium is odorless and tasteless, and this makes it easier to go undetected by the human nose or tongue.

Consequently, chromium deficiency is linked with the higher sugar levels, and if not checked, diabetes is lurking in the corner.

The US Environmental Protection Agency posited that Hexavalent Chromium is the more life threatening form of Chromium. To mitigate or control the amount of Chromium exposure is simply a task of identifying the methods via which it gets into the environment and nipping it in the bud.

Remediation and prevention of chromium related issues are usually quite straight forward if they are adhered to. If there is a solid waste from a tannery, it should be shoveled off. If a water body is contaminated with water, add bone charcoal to it or add an electron donor to break down the damage-causing hexavalent chromium into the less harmful trivalent chromium.

At higher concentrations, this “good” element will create some life-threatening complications. Secondly, the level of human and environmental damages that Chromium could cause is closely tied to the level of development of the leather producing countries.

In the 80s, authorities cleaned up a Kentucky tannery when it was discovered that the rate of cancer among residents around the tannery was way above the National average. But tanneries in less developed countries like Bangladesh or India often contaminate the soil, air and water with chromium and its associated elements like lead, perhaps because, authorities have “bigger fish to fry”.

Instances like this showed that in a well-organized and developed society, remediation and control efforts are strictly enforced and there are fewer chances of chromium contamination.