It appears California can not stand to look at itself in mirror-polished chrome anymore as the beloved (NOT!) California Air Resources Board (CARB) is moving to ban chemicals used in the chrome plating process. Hevalant chromium, also known as Chrome-6, is the newest target of the environmental juggernaut.
Not too long ago, CARB banned the use of heavy truck engines produced before 2010, causing thousands of truckers to either buy a newer model truck or get out of the industry. Now truckers who love their shiny chrome accessories and the multiple high-tech industries that use chrome plating for durability and chemical resistances will have to find either a new formula to generate that shiny finish or find an alternative compound.
According to CARB’s research, the chemicals released during chrome plating are 500 times more toxic than diesel exhaust. There are fume suppressants, but these suppressants contain PFAS, another highly toxic compound.
The Air Resources Board hopes the proposed rule will encourage these facilities to switch to trivalent chromium, Chrome-3, a less toxic alternative.
Chrome-3 has been available as a substitute since the early 1990s, but it is not nearly the same. Its darker color is similar to stainless steel, a color not as reflective as its shinier counterpart.
The chrome plating companies will incur significant costs to transition to trivalent chromium plating, which CARB estimates would be around $323,000 each for decorative platers and $4 million for industrial platers. If the ban is approved, state officials are allocating $10 million per year for the first three years of the ban to help with the transition.
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