Hexavalent Chromium Analysis

Certain Coatings Use Cr(VI) to Help Prevent Damage and Corrosion

ROHS PREVENTS THE SALE OF ELECTRONICS IN THE EU THAT CONTAIN CERTAIN TOXIC SUBSTANCES ABOVE A PRE-DETERMINED CONCENTRATION. TO ENSURE OUR CLIENTS CAN SELL THEIR PRODUCT IN EUROPE, APPLIED TECHNICAL SERVICES PERFORMS HEXAVALENT CHROMIUM (CR(VI)) TESTING FOR ROHS COMPLIANCE.

Toxicants in Electronics

Hexavalent chromium is a compound that manufactures often use as an ingredient in coatings applied to ferrous substrates. When used as a coating in this way, it helps make materials more resistant to both corrosion (by sealing it against environmental irritants) and physical damage (by hardening the surface against scratches and dents). These characteristics make coatings with hexavalent chromium popular choices to protect many types of components — from screws and antennae to chassis and frames.

Although it offers a significant value to manufacturers, hexavalent chromium also acts as a carcinogen to humans. When inhaled, exposure to the chemical can cause a litany of serious health issues, including cancer. As such, hexavalent chromium has been targeted by multiple regulatory bodies as a consumer and manufacturing safety issue.


About RoHS

The Restriction of Hazardous Substance Directive (RoHS) is one such measure. Enacted by the European Union (EU) in 2003, RoHS sets forth a list of toxic materials restricted for use in consumer electronics. The law applies to manufacturers and distributors alike and imposes consequences for non-compliance ranging from denial of import to any member state to punitive fines.

RoHS and Regulations

Certain substances belonging to three categories of hazardous materials — toxic metals, brominated flame retardants, and phthalates — may only constitute a certain amount of a compliant product’s mass. For instance, the use of hexavalent chromium is permissible under RoHS at a concentration less than 1,000 parts-per-million (or 0.1% of its chemical makeup by mass).

These guidelines pertain to the mass of each individual component that can be mechanically separated from the entirety of the product instead of the composition of the whole itself. Only after each component is documented to be individually compliant will the product be certified as clear for sale in the EU.

Many companies who want to sell their consumer electronics in the EU find RoHS compliance to represent a tall hurdle. Third-party testing services play the important role of establishing the character and content of regulated materials in test samples. To ensure product compliance with RoHS, Applied Technical Services performs hexavalent chromium testing on consumer electronics.


About Our Method: ICP-AES

ATS accomplishes this by using a test method called Inductively Coupled Plasma-Atomic Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-AES) per ASTM standard E1479 to determine total chromium content. ATS can also analyze for hexavalent chromium specifically using either the spot-test procedure or the boiling water extraction/UV-VIS procedure outlined in IEC 62321.


ATS and RoHS Compliance

For over 50 years, ATS has provided testing, inspection, and engineering consulting services of peerless quality. We proudly serve clients from around the globe that represent a wide variety of industries. Because of our chemists’ experience in performing ASTM E1479 to determine RoHS compliance, we can ensure accurate results within a quick turnaround window. Our lab is staffed with talented professionals, each thoroughly familiar with using ATS’ powerful chemical analysis equipment. We help our clients attain and remain RoHS compliance — let us take a closer look.



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