The presentations and the summary and conclusions of the workshop are published on ECHA's website. ECHA emphasises that these are the conclusions of the workshop and not necessarily those of ECHA.
The following conclusions were drawn from the presentations and subsequent panel discussion:
1. In general Cr(VI) is imported into the EU as chromium trioxide and is transformed to Cr(III) and Cr(VI) formulations in the EU. Lower volumes of Cr(III) are imported from mainly Turkey.
2. As a technology, Cr(III) plating with decorative character is still developing; it is regarded as a much more complex and unstable process than Cr(VI) plating with decorative character and in general consumes more Cr(III) due to a somewhat lower efficiency.
3. Cr(III) acceptance rate by users is still low due to the difficulty to achieve a stable product.
4. Cr(III) plating with decorative character is presently fully dependent on borates due to the fact that this substance fulfils a combination of specific technical properties (e.g. smoothness of the surface, buffer function, …). This is also the case in nickel, zinc and precious metal plating.
5. Cr(III) hazard classification may change as a consequence of the EU substance evaluation going forward; the hazard properties of borates are well known and fulfil the SVHC criteria.
6. The quantity of borates needed relative to the quantity of chrome plate achieved is relatively high.
7. Regeneration of borates is not possible and Waste Water Treatment Plants do not eliminate borates from the waste water. Hence, at present, discharge of borates to surface waters is unavoidable.
8. Borates regulation is expected to become stricter – SVHC candidate listing can place legal requirements in some Member States, such as Italy e.g., on discharge to surface waters.
9. A quantified environmental risk assessment is unfeasible at this stage due to the lack of mass balances for plants discharging borates. A calculation from emissions to surface water based on generic assumptions indicates that there may be a local risk (PEC > PNEC). Current EU-wide regional exposure data do not demonstrate a regional risk1.
10. The review of the BREF document for the surface treatment of metals and plastics' sector is underway. Boron and its compounds have been identified here as a key environmental issue.
11. Monitoring for worker exposure only captures the total chrome. Monitoring of borates is not conducted but is possible with a cost.