Chromate as a health hazard

Leather shoes: Chromate as an underestimated health risk

POLOLO only uses chromate-free leather from Germany

According to EU regulations, leather articles with skin contact containing more than three milligrams of chromate per kilogram can no longer be marketed since 1 May 2015! POLOLOs have been consistently made from purely vegetable-tanned leathers from the very beginning and are therefore recognised as chromate-free and therefore allergy-friendly.

Chromate allergy – the underestimated threat

The sensitisation triggered by contact with chromate, i.e. chromium (VI), e.g. in leather shoes, remains virulent for a lifetime. Chromate is considered a significant allergen and potential carcinogen and endangers those involved in manufacturing, factory residents and ultimately the users of the contaminated leather products.
Chromate allergy can be seen as an overreaction of the body’s own defences against chromium (VI) – which can lead to skin damage in the form of irritation, eczema and, in the worst cases, ulcers. Since in the first phase there is a risk of confusion with, for example, athlete’s foot, this allergy may not be recognised as such right away. However, chromate can also have a carcinogenic effect if it is exposed to the skin for a longer period of time.

Useful chromium – harmful chromate

For tanning, traditional but somewhat more complex and time-consuming processes with vegetable tanning agents can be used, or mineral or synthetic tanning agents can be used. The fastest and cheapest way to tan leather is to use the conventional process with the heavy metal chromium.
A good 85 to 90 percent of the world’s leather production is done by chrome tanning; for this tanning process, chrome compounds of oxidation level +3, so-called chrome (III), are used. Under inadequate production conditions, the useful chromium (III) used can be converted into harmful, toxic chromate through oxidation. Not only the tanners in so-called “low-wage countries” are threatened by health hazards during production, but also the residents of such a factory.

Detailed blog post:
Chromate as an underestimated health hazard