Chrome Plating Operations

This page last reviewed November 29,  2018

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Chrome plating is the process by which an electrical charge is applied to a plating bath containing an electrolytic salt (chromium anhydride) solution. The electrical charge causes the chromium metal in the bath to fall out of solution and deposit onto various objects (usually metallic) placed into the plating bath. Chrome plating operations are categorized based upon the thickness of the chromium metal layer applied. In decorative plating, a layer of nickel is first plated over a metal substrate. Following this step, a thin layer of chromium is deposited over the nickel layer to provide a decorative and protective finish, for example, on faucets and automotive wheels. Hard chrome plating is a process in which a thicker layer of chromium metal is deposited directly on metal substrates such as engine parts, industrial machinery, and tools to provide greater protection against corrosion and wear. Chromic acid anodizing is an electrochemical conversion process that creates a wear and corrosion resistant surface on metal objects but does not result in a metallic chromium layer. The electrical charge during the chrome plating process causes the hexavalent chromium to be emitted from the bath as an aerosol that, once emitted from the facility, can be inhaled and entrained inside the lungs. In a similar manner hexavalent chromium mist is generated during chromic acid anodizing operations.Hexavalent chromium emissions have the potential to adversely impact public health on a statewide basis, as well as at the local community level.

Many chrome plating shops are small operations that have been in business for many years and may be located in close proximity to residences or schools. For these reasons it is imperative that CARB, in joint effort with the local air districts, continue to evaluate the status of chrome plating operations in California to ensure that the levels of chromium do not pose health concerns to nearby residences or schools.   

As one of the first steps in reducing exposures to hexavalent chromium from these sources, CARB has adopted in 1988 and amended in 2006 the Airborne Toxic Control Measure (ATCM) for Chromium Plating and Chromic Acid Anodizing Facilities.  The ATCM required chrome plating facilities to reduce their emissions by requiring use of chemical fume suppressants and/or add-on controls to meet stringent hexavalent chromium emission limits. 

This site contains information related to California’s chrome plating regulation.If you have any questions concerning California’s chrome plating regulation, please refer to the Contact List for the appropriate CARB staff person. If you would like to be notified of news related to the chrome plating regulation, please subscribe to the chrome plating e-mail list server.

What's New?

Description  Date Posted
August 8, 2018
  • CARB announces upcoming amendments to the Airborne Toxic Control Measure for Chrome Plating and Chromic Acid Anodizing Operations.  More information.  
June 8, 2018
  • CARB has updated the list of non-PFOS based fume suppressants for use in chrome plating operations.  More information.
September 21, 2016
  • CARB has issued an advisory regarding the use of PFOS-based fume suppressants.  Advisory.
August 23, 2016
  • CARB has approved three non-PFOS based fume suppressants for use in chrome plating operations.  More information.
April 19, 2016
  • Fact sheet for chrome platers using fume suppressants
October 20, 2015
  • Chrome plating PFOS fume suppressant extension request from the Metal Finishing Association of Southern California and Northern California
  • CARB's response letter approving a one-year extension for the continued use of PFOS fume suppressants in chrome plating operations
September 21, 2015

For more information, please contact Michelle Komlenic.