Chromium. Industrial Contamination

To make a wind turbine, which is 78% steel, the Earth must yield up coal for coking plants to provide coke for furnaces to burn red hot to smelt iron ore. When the Earth yielded up iron ore, sulphuric acid entered the once clean groundwater. Nickel was next to be yielded, and the poisonous slag heaps grew higher and were not safely controlled. Tailings filled dams, and sometimes dams burst and rivers ran toxic red and sometimes there was thick red sludge which covered villages beneath the dams.

Next we have Chromium, used in the process of making steel less prone to corrosion.

This website explains:

Chromium is a chemical element which is denoted by the symbol Cr and its atomic number is 24. It is a steel-gray, radiant, hard metal that show cases a high polished surface and has a high end melting point. It is also odorless, bland, and pliable.

During the 1800s chromium metal was mainly utilized as a element of paints and in leather tanning salts but now metal combinations sum up for 85% of the usage of chromium. The remnants are used in the chemical manufacturing, refractory and foundry industrial sectors. Chromium was given the name such after the Greek word that spells “Chroma” that means color, for the reason of the many colorful compounds made from it.

Chromium is mined as chromite (FeCr2O4) ore. About 2/5ths of the chromite ores and concentrates in the world are fashioned in South Africa, while Kazakhstan, India, Russia, and Turkey are also sizeable producers. Unexploited chromite deposits are plentiful, but geographically resolute in Kazakhstan and southern Africa.

This site tells us about the role chromium has in the making of stainless steel:

Chromium is the most important alloying element in austenitic stainless steel.

What is the role of Chromium in stainless steel? The corrosion resistance of austenitic stainless steel is mainly due to the fact that chromium in stainless steel promotes the passivation of steel and maintains the steel in a stable and passive state under the action of meeting material.

The effect of chromium in stainless steel structure

In austenitic stainless steel, chromium is an element that strongly forms and stabilizes the ferrite, narrowing the austenite zone, as the content of the steel increases, ferrite (δ) can appear in the austenitic stainless steel Organization, research shows that in chromium-nickel austenitic stainless steel, when the carbon content is 0.1% and the chromium content is 18%, in order to obtain a stable single austenite structure, the minimum nickel content is required, about 8%. In this regard, the commonly used 18Cr-8Ni chromium-nickel austenitic stainless steel is the most suitable one for chromium-nickel content.

And the importance of chromium in protecting against corrosion, essential for a wind turbine high in the sky, open to all the elements, this site provides a description of how it works:

Chromium steels are types of steel, with which iron can be alloyed with chromium. Colloquially the term is often used interchangeably with the word stainless steel. In principle, chromium does not have to be necessarily contained in stainless steel, but chromium is one of the most common alloying elements in stainless steel grades and is contained in most commercially used stainless steel grades. Chromium is one of the key elements used to increase the resistance to corrosion. This fact explains the usually synonymous uses of the term.

Wikipedia lists the countries where Chromium is predominantly mined.

This website illustrates the dangerous consequences of mining Chromium where doing so is unregulated.

Chromium is unstable in an oxygenated environment and, when exposed to air, immediately produces an oxide layer which is impermeable to further oxygen contamination.

Transport of Chromium into the Environment

Chromium enters the environment through both natural processes and human activities. Increases in Chromium III are due to leather, textile, and steel manufacturing; Chromium VI enters the environment through some of the same channels such as leather and textile manufacturing, but also due to industrial applications such as electro painting and chemical manufacturing. Groundwater contamination may occur due to seepage from chromate mines or improper disposal of mining tools and supplies, and improper disposal of industrial manufacturing equipment.


Chromium can affect the air quality through coal manufacturing, which eventally can lead to water or soil contamination. Water contamination is fairly limited to surface water, and will not affect groundwater because chromium strongly attaches to soil and is generally contained within the silt layer surrounding or withing the groundwater reservoir. Water contaminated with chromium will not build up in fish when consumed, but will accumulate on the gills, thus, causing negative health effects for aquatic animals; chromium uptake results in increased mortality rates in fish due to contamination.

When consumed by animals, the effects can include “respiratory problems, a lower ability to fight disease, birth defects, infertility and tumor formation.” (LennTech)

Impacts on Human Health

This pathogen is a mutagen, carcinogen, etc. It is concentrated in bone, blood, organs….

What are the tolerances? What is toxic, what is lethal?

Chromium VI (hexavalent chromium) is considered carcinogenic only to animals in certain circumstances at this point; chromium in general is currently not classified as a carcinogen as the OSHA and is fairly unregulated, but is considered toxic, level 3. While chromium III is essential for regular operation of human vascular and metabolic systems as well as combating diabetes, too much chromium III may result in severe skin rash, or other more serious symptoms.

Chromium VI is the most dangerous form of chromium and may cause health problems including: allergic reactions, skin rash, nose irritations and nosebleed, ulsers, weakened immune system, genetic material alteration, kidney and liver damage, and may even go as far as death of the individual.

There is, however, no established limit for human consumption of chromium III. Individulals have been recorded as consuming 1000mg daily for elongated periods with no negative effects; but, as with all minerals our body needs, too much consumption may result in poisoning.

Chromium Mining
South African Miners

The above image is from an article about the damaging affects of mining dust on local communities, such as those in South Africa.

The image of sleek and clean wind farms here in Scotland conceals the terrible harm to those who live amongst the mining communities, who suffer horrible deaths from breathing in harmful dusts. Silicosis was a familiar disease amongst UK miners and, when eventually meagre compensation was finally awarded to the sufferer, he was usually dead by the time the funds reached his bank. Similarly, in south Africa, until very recently, no miner was allowed to complain of ill health and request compensation. But now thousands are allowed to claim and are owed huge amounts – but will the money reach them in time to help the sufferer or whole families who are ill too., living so close to contaminants?

About borderslynn

Retired, living in the Scottish Borders after living most of my life in cities in England. I can now indulge my interest in all aspects of living close to nature in a wild landscape. I live on what was once the Iapetus Ocean which took millions of years to travel from the Southern Hemisphere to here in the Northern Hemisphere. That set me thinking and questioning and seeking answers. In 1998 I co-wrote Millennium Countdown (US)/ A Business Guide to the Year 2000 (UK) see
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1 Response to Chromium. Industrial Contamination

  1. Pingback: Conscious Disregard, continued…….. | borderslynn

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