Independent centre of excellence

The substance Chromium VI gained notoriety in the film Erin Brokovich for causing health problems near a tannery and rightly so with this carcinogen. Around 80% of the world’s leather production is tanned with chromium salts which enable the finished leather to be suitable for a range of end use products. During leather tanning chromium III is used to give a highly versatile leather suited to most industries and if the tanning processes are carried out correctly the leather will be completely safe to use. However it is the presence of chromium VI which is of concern to the consumer.   Chromium VI is not used within the leather tanning process, but its presence may occur by oxidation of chromium III due to a variety of reasons. For example oxidation of chromium III can occur with extremely high pH or temperature or if chrome powder there is a possibility that it may contain chrome VI as an impurity. Chromium VI is currently under public consideration for inclusion in the REACH regulations whereby its presence in leather would be banned above a 3ppm limit of detection. This would bring it into line with legislation currently in place in European nations such as Germany.  The deadline for comments closes on 12 February 2013. Comments received from the consultation will be reviewed and taken into account by SEAC in its final opinion, which is scheduled for adoption by 15 March 2013. The proposed restriction is as follows: Chromium (VI) compounds Leather articles, or leather parts of articles, coming into contact with the skin, shall not be placed on the market if they contain chromium (VI) in concentrations equal to or higher than 3 mg/kg (0,0003%) chromium (VI) of the total dry weight of the leather.   RAPEX, the EU Rapid alert system for dangerous non-food consumer products, has recently released details of two items (a pair of leather gloves and a pair of ladies shoes with leather inner soles and upper.) intended for the European market that contained well above the 3ppm limit of Chromium VI and so posed a huge potential risk to users of the product and to the environment. The leather gloves actually contained 50ppm (16 times the legal limit) and so as a result the product was recalled from the market place. The Laboratory At The Birmingham Assay Office is UKAS accredited to carry out Chromium VI testing. Analysis of chromium VI is carried out by UV/vis determination after derivatisation of an extracted solution and The Lab can offer a fast turnaround time to help ensure that products are below the legal limit and safe for the market place.  For further information on Chromium VI or any other testing matters please contact Tim Smith or Steve Franklin on or 0871 871 6020.  

The Laboratory at The Birmingham Assay Office will also be at The Jewellery Show from Sunday 3rd – Thursday 7th February – Hall 18, Stand L59, and the team will also be roaming the fashion halls so please do email us at if you would like them to stop by your stand.



Jewellery Packaging Boxes - the most common tarnishing accelerants of jewellery articles

2nd Feb 2023

Learn more

The Assay Offices of the UK announce King Charles III Coronation commemorative hallmark

30th Jan 2023

Learn more

Goldsmiths’ Craft & Design Council FINAL CALL for entries and KEY DIARY DATES

5th Jan 2023

Learn more

British Hallmarking Council and National Association of Jewellers announce the HALO Award for online promotion of the hallmark.

30th Jun 2022

Learn more


25th Sep 2018

Learn more

City of Wolverhampton wins Touchstone Award 2018

8th Jun 2018

Learn more



Your item has been added to the basket

You need to create an account, or login before you can add this item to your basket.