Any potential adverse effects of chromium are highly dependent upon the form of chromium, the route of exposure (e.g. ingestion, inhalation, and dermal contact) and the dose. Trivalent chromium [Cr(III)] occurs naturally in most environmental media and is the most environmentally stable form of chromium. It has extremely low or no toxicity via all routes of human exposure and does not pose a cancer risk. In contrast, hexavalent chromium [Cr(VI)] rarely occurs naturally and is mostly produced via industrial processes, or as by-product of human activities, e.g., as a combustion product and is a known dermal sensitizer and a lung carcinogen following significant inhalation exposure.

Geometric Still Life. 3D rendered image

Community and occupational exposures to Cr(VI) have been of interest for more than 50 years. From 1940 – 1970, increased incidence of nasal and lung cancers were observed in some workers in manufacturing facilities due to high levels of Cr(VI) exposure. Cr(VI) is also one of the most well-studied dermal sensitizers after nickel. It is highly potent and is regulated in both the US and Europe for materials likely to come in contact with skin.

Our staff has been involved in chromium research since the early 1990s. We were involved in the Hudson County, New Jersey Superfund sites, litigation regarding occupational exposures within the chrome plating industry, and claims of exposures by communities living near facilities which emitted chromium. We have evaluated Cr (VI) in air, water, soil, and sediments. In addition, we have been named as experts in numerous lawsuits involving both occupational and environmental exposures to these chemicals.

Key Projects

  • The sensitization hazard posed by cobalt, chromium and nickel released by hip implants. Was retained by a manufacturer to determine the likelihood that these metals, when released through normal wear, were likely to induce or elicit a sensitization response in patients. (spring of 2015). (Kovochich, M., E.S. Fung, E. Donovan, K.M. Unice, D.J. Paustenbach, and B.L. Finley. 2017. Characterization of wear debris from metal-on-metal hip implants during normal wear versus edge-loading conditions. J Biomed Mat Res B. Advanced online publication, May 8, 2017. doi. 10.1002/jbm.b.33902; Unice, K.M., A.D. Monnot, S.H. Gaffney, B.E. Tvermoes, K.A. Thuett, D.J. Paustenbach, and B.L. Finley. 2012. Inorganic cobalt supplementation. Prediction of cobalt levels in whole blood and urine using a biokinetic model. Food Chem. Toxicol. 50.2456-2461.; Tvermoes, B.E., B.L. Finley, K.M. Unice, J.M. Otani, D.J. Paustenbach, and D.A. Galbraith. 2013. Cobalt whole blood concentrations in healthy adult male volunteers following two-weeks of ingesting acobalt supplement. Food Chem Tox. 53.432-439.).
  • Nanoparticles and hip implants. During 2012-2014, we conducted an evaluation of alleged health risks associated with the release of nanoparticles (and other wear debris) from cobalt-chromium containing metal on metal hip implants. Several papers were published describing our work. (Madl, A.K., M. Liong, M. Kovochich, B.L. Finley, D.J. Paustenbach, and G. Oberdorster. 2015. Toxicology of wear particles of cobalt-chromium alloy metal-on-metal hip implants Part I: Physiochemical properties in patient and simulator studies. Nanomed: Nanotech Biol Med. 11(5):1201-1215; Madl, A.K., M. Kovochich, M. Liong, B.L. Finley, D.J. Paustenbach, and G. Oberdorster. 2015. Toxicology of wear particles of cobalt-chromium alloy metal-on-metal hip implants Part II: Importance of physiochemical properties and dose in animal and in vitro studies as a basis for risk assessment. Nanomed: Nanotech Biol Med. 11(5):1285-1298.).
  • Assessment of health hazards posed by CCA-treated wood (National). During 2001-2002, directed a team that evaluated the possible human health hazards posed by contact with arsenic, copper, and chromium present on the surface of treated wood. The concern of regulatory agencies and society was the risk to children who played on decks and treated wood in playgrounds. Work was presented to USEPA Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) sampling and analysis plan (SAP).
  • Epidemiology study of chromium (VI) (Ohio). During 1998-2002, served as a science advisor on work involving the assembly of all available personnel, medical, and industrial hygiene data for the Painesville, Ohio, workers (so-called Diamond Shamrock Cohort). The results of the research were used by OSHA during their reevaluation of the dose-response curve and cancer potency factors for airborne hexavalent chromium. About four papers describing this work were published in peer-reviewed journals.
  • Assessment of chromium (VI) in groundwater (California). During 2000–2001, interacted with regulatory agencies to help characterize risk from chromium. A number of studies showed that chromium (III) and chromium (VI) were in groundwater throughout the state as a result of naturally occurring and industrial sources. The concentrations of chromium (VI) were very low, but a public health guidance (PHG) value had been proposed.
  • Assessment of risks posed by chromium (III) in Hackensack River (New Jersey). From about 1994-1999, evaluated the risks to aquatic species and humans posed by the presence of chromium in the sediments of the Hackensack River.
  • Assessment of risks of chromium (VI) in drinking water (California). In 1995-1996, developed a multipathway exposure and risk assessment to estimate the retrospective exposure history of approximately ten test plaintiffs with alleged exposure to hexavalent chromium in groundwater. Designed and conducted a series of bench scale testing and human pharmacokinetic studies to examine the fate of hexavalent chromium in humans after tap water ingestion. Nearly twenty peer-reviewed papers and/or abstracts were developed and presented at various scientific meetings.
  • Dose reconstruction of chromium workers at the Painesville site (Ohio). Beginning in 1996, conducted an evaluation of historical occupational exposure information for one of the largest chromium processing sites in the United States, which operated from 1940-1970. Project involved reviewing documents including air sampling data, medical data, and manufacturing information. The analysis resulted in the publication of four different manuscripts that are, in a large measure, the basis for OSHA regulations regarding airborne chromium (VI).
  • Sampling of chromium (VI) in air. During two summers, served as the principal-in-charge of a major research program devoted to collecting more than 300 twelve-hour samples of airborne dust near sites containing COPR in soils. At least four papers were published about this work (mid 1990s).
  • Ecotoxicology assessment of chromium in sediment in the Hackensack River (New Jersey). Between 1994 and 1995, performed technical oversight for an ecological assessment involving site-collected sediments, crabs, and other wildlife.
  • Development of a method for detecting airborne chromium (VI) in particulates. In the early 1990s, the primary concern associated with the presence of chromium (VI) in soil was the potential inhalation hazard of chromium (VI), a likely human carcinogen when present in acid mist. Since no ambient method for detecting ppb concentrations was available at the time, ChemRisk developed a new method based on the work of the California Air Resources Board and NIOSH. It was later accepted by ASTM as the standard method for sampling ambient concentrations of chromium (VI) in airborne particulates.
  • Evaluation of reasonableness of USEPA model for predicting soil concentrations in airborne particulates (New Jersey). In 1992-1994, conducted an air sampling program near a chromium-contaminated site with the intent of validating Cowherd’s soil suspension model. The results were published in a peer-reviewed journal.
  • Comprehensive risk assessment of chromium in soil. Over a period of two years (1991-1993), ChemRisk conducted a number of risk assessments of the cancer and dermatitis hazards posed by the presence of COPR in soil. Our analyses were published in three different peer-reviewed journals.
  • Proposed reference concentration for chromium (Consortium Clients). From 1991-1993, prepared and submitted comments to USEPA’s proposed “reference concentration” for airborne chromium. Was invited to serve as an advisor to an USEPA workgroup to evaluate better methods for setting these criteria. Work was published in a peer-reviewed journal.
  • Assessment of questions about an allergic contact dermatitis hazard. This work involved developing an original research program to identify the minimum-elicitation threshold for chromium (VI) in sensitized people. This $1-million program involved 54 volunteers who were patch-tested in order to determine the threshold of elicitation. The work was published in a peer-reviewed journal in 1995. Work was conducted in the early-1990s
  • Assessment of chromium (VI) leaching from soil as a result of contact with sweat. In the early 1990s, conducted research that evaluated the dermal bioavailability of chromium (VI) and chromium (III) in soil when present in sweat. The work was published in a peer-reviewed journal.
  • Assessment of Hudson County (New Jersey). Over a period of eight years, beginning around 1990, served as the primary toxicologist and risk assessor evaluating the hazards posed by the presence of chromium (VI) and chromium (III) in soils in both residential and industrial areas. During this time, we conducted a significant amount of original research to evaluate the possible health hazards posed by chromite ore processing residue (COPR) in soils. Virtually all of this work was published in a series of peer-reviewed papers.


  • Finley, B., P.K. Scott, M.E. Glynn, D. Paustenbach, E. Donovan, and K.A. Thuett. 2017. Chromium speciation in the blood of metal-on-metal hip implant patients. Tox Environ Chem. 99(1):48-64.
  • Madl, A.K., M. Liong, M. Kovochich, B.L. Finley, D.J. Paustenbach, and G. Oberdorster. 2015. Toxicology of wear particles of cobalt-chromium alloy metal-on-metal hip implants Part I: Physiochemical properties in patient and simulator studies. Nanomedicine. 11(5):1201-1215.
  • Madl, A.K., M. Kovochich, M. Liong, B.L. Finley, D.J. Paustenbach, and G. Oberdorster. 2015. Toxicology of wear particles of cobalt-chromium alloy metal-on-metal hip implants Part II: Importance of physiochemical properties and dose in animal and in vitro studies as a basis for risk assessment. Nanomedicine. 11(5):1285-1298.
  • Kerger, B.D., W.J. Butler, D.J. Paustenbach, J.D. Zhang, and S.K. Li. 2009. Cancer Mortality in Chinese Populations Surrounding an Alloy Plant with Chromium Smelting Operations. J Toxicol Environ Health A. 72(5):329-344.
  • Kuykendall, J.R., K.N. Mellinger, K.L. Miller, A.V. Cain, M.W. Perry, M. Bradley, E.J. Jarvi, and D.J. Paustenbach. 2009. DNA-Protein cross-links in erythrocytes of freshwater fish exposed to hexavalent chromium or divalent nickel. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 56(2):260-267.
  • Proctor, D.M., J.P. Panko, E.W. Liebig, and D.J. Paustenbach. 2004. Estimating historical occupational exposure to airborne hexavalent chromium in chromate production plant: 1940-1972. J Occup Environ Hyg. 1(11):752-67.
  • Crump C., K. Crump, E. Hack, R. Luippold, K. Mundt, E.W. Liebig, J.M. Panko, D.J. Paustenbach, and D. Proctor. 2003. Dose-response and risk assessment of airborne hexavalent chromium and lung cancer mortality. Risk Anal. 23(6):1147-63.
  • Paustenbach, D.J., B.L. Finley, F.S. Mowat and B.D. Kerger. 2003. Human health risk and exposure assessment of chromium (VI) in tap water. J Toxicol Env Health A. 66(14):1295-339.
  • Proctor, D.M., J.P. Panko, E.W. Liebig, P.K. Scott, K.A. Mundt, M.A. Buczynski, R.J. Barnhart, M.A. Harris, R.J. Morgan, and D.J. Paustenbach. 2003. Workplace airborne hexavalent chromium concentrations for the Painesville, Ohio, chromate production plant (1943-1971). Appl Occup Environ Hyg. 18(6):430-49.
  • Proctor, D.M., J.M. Otani, B.L. Finley, D.J. Paustenbach, J.A. Bland, N. Speizer, and E.V. Sargent. 2002. Is hexavalent chromium carcinogenic via ingestion? A weight-of-evidence review. J Toxicol Environ Health A. 65(10):701−46.
  • O’Flaherty, E.J., B.D. Kerger, S.M. Hays, and D.J. Paustenbach. 2001. A physiologically based model for the ingestion of chromium(III) and chromium(VI) by humans. Toxicol Sci. 60(2):196-213.
  • Fowler, J.F., C.L. Kauffman, J.G. Marks, D.M. Proctor, M.M. Fredrick, J.M. Otani, B.L. Finley, D.J. Paustenbach, and J.R. Nethercott. 1999. An environmental hazard assessment of low-level dermal exposure to hexavalent chromium in solution among chromium-sensitized volunteers. J Occup Environ Med. 41(3)150-60.
  • Proctor, D.M., M.M. Fredrick, P.K. Scott, D.J. Paustenbach, and B.L. Finley. 1998. The prevalence of chromium allergy in the United States and its implications for setting soil cleanup: a cost-effectiveness case study. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 28(1):27-37.
  • Finley, B.L. and D.J. Paustenbach. 1997. Using applied research to reduce uncertainty in health risks assessment: five case studies involving human exposure to chromium in soil and groundwater. J Soil Contam. 6(6):649-705.
  • Corbett, G.E., B.L. Finley, D.J. Paustenbach, and B.D. Kerger. 1997. Systemic uptake of chromium in human volunteers following dermal contact with hexavalent chromium (22 mg/L). J Expo Anal Environ Epidemiol. 7(2):179-89.
  • Finley, B.L., B.D. Kerger, M.W. Katona, M.L. Gargas, G.C. Corbett, and D.J. Paustenbach. 1997. Human ingestion of chromium(VI) in drinking water: pharmacokinetics following repeated exposure. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 142(1):151-9.
  • Kerger, B.D., B.L. Finley, G.E. Corbett, D.G. Dodge, and D.J. Paustenbach. 1997. Ingestion of chromium(VI) in drinking water by human volunteers: absorption, distribution, and excretion of single and repeated doses. J Toxicol Environ Health. 50(1):67-95.
  • Paustenbach, D.J., J.M. Panko, M.M. Fredrick, B.L. Finley, and D.M. Proctor. 1997. Urinary chromium as a biological marker of environmental exposure: what are the limitations? Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 26(1):S23-34.
  • Finley, B.L., B.D. Kerger, D.G. Dodge, S.M. Myers, R.O. Richter, and D.J. Paustenbach. 1996. Assessment of airborne hexavalent chromium in the home following use of contaminated tapwater. J Expo Anal Environ Epidemiol. 6(2):229-45.
  • Finley, B.L., P.K. Scott, R.L. Norton, M.L. Gargas, and D.J. Paustenbach. 1996. Urinary chromium concentrations in humans following ingestion of safe doses of hexavalent and trivalent chromium: implications for biomonitoring. J Toxicol Environ Health. 48(5):479-99.
  • Kerger, B.D., D.J. Paustenbach, G.E. Corbett, and B.L. Finley. 1996. Absorption and elimination of trivalent and hexavalent chromium in humans following ingestion of a bolus dose in drinking water. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 141(1):145-58.
  • Kerger, B.D., R.O. Richter, S.M. Chute, D.G. Dodge, S.K. Overman, J. Liang, B.L. Finley, and D.J. Paustenbach. 1996. Refined exposure assessment for ingestion of tapwater contaminated with hexavalent chromium: consideration of exogenous and endogenous reducing agents. J Exp Anal Environ Epidemiol. 6(2):163-79.
  • Kuykendall, J.R., B.D. Kerger, E.J. Jarvi, G.E. Corbett, and D.J. Paustenbach. 1996. Measurement of DNA-protein cross-links in human leukocytes following acute ingestion of chromium in drinking water. Carcinogenesis. 17(9):1971-7.
  • Mirsalis, J.C., C.M. Hamilton, K.G. O’Loughlin, D.J. Paustenbach, B.D. Kerger, and S. Patierno. 1996. Brief communication: chromium(VI) at plausible drinking water concentrations is not genotoxic in the in vivo bone marrow micronucleus or liver unscheduled DNA synthesis assays. Environ Mol Mutagen. 28(1):60-3.
  • Paustenbach, D.J., S.M. Hays, B.A. Brien, D.G. Dodge, and B.D. Kerger. 1996. Observation of steady state in blood and urine following human ingestion of hexavalent chromium in drinking water. J Toxicol Environ Health. 49(5):453-61.
  • Gargas, M.L., R.L. Norton, D.J. Paustenbach, and B.L. Finley. 1994. Urinary excretion of chromium by humans following ingestion of chromium picolinate: Implications for biomonitoring. Drug Metab Dispos. 22(4):522-9.
  • Gargas, M.L., R.B. Norton, M.A. Harris, D.J. Paustenbach, and B.L. Finley. 1994. Urinary excretion of chromium following ingestion of chromite-ore processing residues in humans: Implications for biomonitoring. Risk Anal. 14(6):1019-24.
  • Nethercott, J., D.J. Paustenbach, R. Adams, J. Fowler, J. Marks, C. Morton, J. Taylor, S. Horowitz, and B.E. Finley. 1994. A study of chromium induced allergic contact dermatitis with 54 volunteers: implications for environmental risk assessment. Occup Environ Med. 51(6):371-80.
  • Anderson, R.A., T. Colton, J. Doull, J.G. Marks, R.G. Smith, G. Bruce, B.L. Finley, and D.J. Paustenbach. 1993. Designing a biological monitoring program to assess community exposure to chromium: conclusions of an expert panel. J Toxicol Environ Health. 40(4):555-83.
  • Finley, B., K. Fehling, M. Falerios, and D.J. Paustenbach. 1993. Field validation for sampling and analysis of airborne hexavalent chromium. Appl Occup Environ Hyg. 8(3):191-200.
  • Falerios, M., P. Sheehan, K. Schild, and D.J. Paustenbach. 1992. Airborne concentrations of trivalent and hexavalent chromium from contaminated soils at unpaved and partially paved commercial/industrial sites. J Air Waste Mgmt Assoc. 42:40-48.
  • Finley, B., D. Proctor, and D.J. Paustenbach. 1992. An alternative to USEPA’s proposed inhalation reference concentration for hexavalent and trivalent chromium. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 16:161-76.
  • Paustenbach, D.J., P.J. Sheehan, J.M. Paull, L.M. Wisser, and B.L. Finley. 1992. Review of the allergic contact dermatitis hazard posed by chromium-contaminated soil: identifying a “safe” concentration. J Toxicol Environ Health. 37:177-208.
  • Sheehan, P., R. Ricks, S. Ripple, and D.J. Paustenbach. 1992. Field evaluation of a sampling and analytical method for environmental levels of airborne hexavalent chromium. Am Ind Hyg Assoc J. 53(1):57-68.
  • Paustenbach, D.J., D. Meyer, P.J. Sheehan, and V. Lau. 1991. An assessment and quantitative uncertainty analysis of the health risks to workers exposed to chromium contaminated soils. Toxicol Ind Health. 7:159-96.
  • Paustenbach, D.J., W.E. Rinehart, and P.J. Sheehan. 1991. The health hazards posed by chromium contaminated soils in residential and industrial areas: Conclusions of an expert panel. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 13:195-222.
  • Sheehan, P., D. Meyer, M. Sauer, and D.J. Paustenbach. 1991. Assessment of the human health risks posed by exposure to chromium contaminated soils. J Toxicol Environ Health. 32:161-201.


Letters-to-the-Editor and Editorials

  • Paustenbach, D.J. 2009. Letter to editor. Re: On the Chromium Reanalysis. Epidemiology. 20:625-626.
  • Gargas, G., M. Harris, D.J. Paustenbach, and B. Finley. 1996. Response to the letter-to-the editor written by Stern et al. regarding the paper “Urinary Excretion of Chromium Following Ingestion of Chromite-Ore Processing Residues in Humans: Implications for Biomonitoring.” Risk Anal. 16(5):609-12.
  • Finley, B.L., D.J. Paustenbach, J. Nethercott, and J. Fowler. 1995. Risk assessment of the allergic dermatitis potential of environmental exposure to hexavalent chromium. Letter-to-the-editor regarding: Stern et al. (1993). J Toxicol Environ Health. 44(3):377-83.
  • Gargas, M.L., B.L. Finley, R. Norton, and D.J. Paustenbach. 1995. Response to Fagliano et al. letter-to-the-editor on urine chromium screening. Drug Metab Disp. 23(6):607-9.


Books Edited

  • Chromium in soil: Perspectives in chemistry, health and environmental regulation. Proctor, D.M., B.F. Finley, M.A. Harris, D.J. Paustenbach, and D. Rabbe (eds.). Amherst Scientific Publishing. Amherst, MA. 707 pages.


Book Chapters

  • Kerger, B., B. Finley, and D.J. Paustenbach. 2002. Chapter 7: Hexavalent chromium in groundwater: The importance of chemistry and pharmacokinetics in quantitating dose and risk. In: D.J. Paustenbach (ed.), Human and Ecological Risk Assessment: Theory and Practice. John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY, pp. 445-474.
  • Finley, B.L. and D.J. Paustenbach. 1998. Chapter 6: Using applied research to reduce uncertainty in health risk assessment: five case studies involving human exposure to chromium in soil and groundwater. In: Proctor, D., B.L. Finley, M. Harris, O. Rabbe, and D.J. Paustenbach (eds.), Chromium in the Environment. Amherst Publishing, Amherst, MA.