POLOLO only uses chromate-free leather from Germany

The EU had published a regulation on March 26th, 2014, according to which the long-standing strict German regulation regarding chromium (VI) in leather goods must also be adopted throughout the European Union. Chromate allergy is considered an increasing challenge, as according to medical experts, there are already 500,000 people in Germany who are affected by it – and the number is rising. The sensitisation triggered by contact with chromate, i.e. chromium (VI), in leather shoes remains virulent for a lifetime. Experts believe that around 20 percent of leather shoes sold in Germany still contain significant amounts of chromate, even though it has long been banned in Germany. Chromium VI residues are odourless; complex laboratory tests are needed to detect them.

Strict German regulations for chromium (VI) in leather goods

According to the currently valid Annex XVII to the “REACH” Regulation (EC) No. 1907/2006, companies in the EU may only manufacture, import or place on the market leather articles that are below the legal limit:
Leather articles that come into contact with the skin and contain more than three milligrams of chromate per kilogram are therefore no longer considered marketable since May 1st, 2015! Traders whose goods exceed this limit are threatened with reputational and financial damage. Leather POLOLOs are consistently made from purely vegetable-tanned leathers and are therefore recognised as allergy suitable.

How the harmful chromate gets into the leather

To produce leather, the tanning process makes animal skin more supple and durable. The tanning process can be carried out using traditional, but somewhat more complex and time-consuming methods with vegetable tanning agents, or mineral or synthetic tanning agents can be used. The quickest and cheapest way to achieve this 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. This means that not only the tanners in so-called “low-wage countries” are threatened by health hazards during production, but also the people living near such a factory.

Chromate with potential for harm to workers, neighbours and customers

In addition, the treatment of old leather goods and waste containing chromate, e.g. by incineration, raises environmental and legal questions, because chromium VI dusts could be produced and released into the environment. Chromate is considered a significant allergen and potential carcinogen, endangering those involved in the manufacturing process, 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, if the skin is exposed to chromate for a longer period of time, it can also have a carcinogenic effect.

Way out: Vegetable leather tanning

Chrome-tanned leathers are always grey after tanning, so it is always necessary to dye such leathers – this is not absolutely necessary with vegetable-tanned leathers, because you can also leave the colour of the tanning plant. For example, rhubarb dyes yellow, tara white. The dyeing in the traditional tanning process can thus be done directly with the vegetable tanning agent, which is harmless to health.
Leather is a good example of holistic sustainability considerations – from production to disposal. POLOLO makes no compromises when it comes to the health of its customers and has therefore relied on purely vegetable-tanned leather from Germany since the very beginning in order to avoid the risk of chromate-contaminated leather in the first place.

POLOLOs are allergy suitable

POLOLO Executive Director Franziska Kuntze: “At our stand at the ‘Allergy & Free From Show’ in Berlin in January 2015, it became clear that the topic of allergies is of concern to more and more parents and their children.”
In 2012, the European Centre for Allergy Research Foundation (ECARF) awarded all leather POLOLOs with the ECARF Seal for allergy suitable products, certifying that they are particularly skin-friendly, because only soft chrome-free, vegetable-tanned nappa leather is used as the material for their manufacture. True to the motto “Quality of life despite allergies”, the ECARF Seal identifies everyday products that demonstrably facilitate and improve the lives of allergy sufferers.

POLOLO: Committed to holistic sustainability

POLOLO is committed to holistic sustainability that meets the highest health, social and ecological standards – in addition to skin compatibility for users and fairness towards those involved in production, the environment and nature should also be protected through low resource consumption and the reduction of pollutants and waste.
POLOLO therefore relies on German leather because its production takes place transparently under tested conditions and the transport routes are kept short. Franziska Kuntze: “We cordially invite you to visit us at our exhibition stands and find out about the high quality of our shoes made of allergy suitable pollutant-free leather.”

Photo: Our vegetable tanning agents – Valonea oak and tara plant