Hexavalent chromium (Cr6+) is a toxic and carcinogenic compound affecting workers and residents of the areas around the plating plants and other industrial facilities. Its effects on human health have been studied intensively. Long term exposure can lead to:
oRespiratory conditions. Respiratory conditions include asthma, bronchitis, itching, physical trauma to the respiratory tract and lung cancers. oStomach or other cancers induced by the oral uptake of hexavalent chromium. oSkin conditions, including cancers in the skin and muscle tissue, when the exposure involved the bare skin of the workers.
Within the European Union, the use of hexavalent chromium in electrical and electronic products have been prohibited since 1st of July 2006 [https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/da/IP_06_903]. Hexavalent chromium is also included within REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals) due to its toxicity.
During the plating on plastics process, hexavalent chromium is currently used in chromic acid bath solutions used in the surface etching process, a pre-treatment step required for the electrodeposition of metals onto plastic non-conductive surfaces. FreeMe aims to eliminate the use of hexavalent chromium from the plating on plastics process, based on REACH compliant chemicals, avoiding toxic compounds and ensuring the long-term sustainability.