Chromium VI directive
The Chromium (VI) Directive applies to cement and cement-containing preparations, effective from 17 January 2005.
It is designed to minimise chromate related allergic dermatitis arising from unprotected contact with cement or products containing cement. It only applies to wet cement/fresh concrete. It is safe to touch hardened concrete and other structures containing cement.
UK cement manufacturers ensure that their cements have levels of soluble chromium (VI), when water is added, that are no more than two parts per million by mass of the dry cement. This level is stated on the bags and data sheets.
Where it is necessary to achieve these levels and control the quantity of soluble chromium, small amounts of a reducing agent are added to the cement. However, as the reducing agent is only active for a limited period, it will be necessary to declare a shelf life for cement during which the very low level of chromium (VI) is maintained. This limited storage period for cement is a major issue for the cement industry and its customers e.g. formulators of blended materials for repair.
The correct safety precautions should still be taken when handing cement and fresh concrete to minimise contact e.g. gloves and goggles.