California air regulators vote to ban toxic chrome plating

California air regulators voted Thursday to ban the use of a highly toxic metal for restoring classic car parts, protecting aviation components and producing a lustrous metallic finish for a variety of consumer products.

From car bumpers to kitchen faucets, hexavalent chromium, known as chrome-6, has given a range of consumer products a gleaming decorative shine. It also provides critical aviation components like airplane landing gear with a durable, rust-resistant coating.

Although hardened chrome is harmless, the fumes from the plating process — 500 times more toxic than diesel exhaust — increase cancer risk in many disadvantaged communities across the state, according to California regulators.

To reduce the health risks associated with this exposure, the California Air Resources Board adopted a first-of-its-kind rule for the chrome-plating industry to phase out the use of chrome-6 for decorative purposes by no later than 2030 and for essential functions by 2039.


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