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J Appl Toxicol. 1993 May-Jun;13(3):217-24.

The toxicology of chromium with respect to its chemical speciation: a review.

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  • 1Rutgers University, Camden, NJ 08102-1205.


The properties of trivalent and hexavalent chromium are reviewed with respect to acute and chronic oral toxicity, dermal toxicity, systemic toxicity, toxicokinetics, cytotoxicity, genotoxicity and carcinogenicity. The hexavalent chromium compounds appear to be 10-100 times more toxic than the trivalent chromium compounds when both are administered by the oral route. Dermal irritancy and allergy are more frequently caused by contact with soluble hexavalent chromium compounds. The cytotoxicity of soluble and insoluble hexavalent chromium compounds to fibroblasts is 100-1000 times greater than that demonstrated by trivalent chromium compounds. In short-term tests, the hexavalent chromium compounds demonstrated genotoxic effects four times more frequently than did the trivalent chromium compounds. Carcinogenicity appears to be associated with the inhalation of the less soluble/insoluble hexavalent chromium compounds. The toxicology of chromium does not reside with the elemental form. It varies greatly among a wide variety of very different chromium compounds. Oxidation state and solubility are particularly important factors in considering the toxicity of chromium with respect to its chemical speciation.

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