Investigation of the threshold for allergic reactivity to chromium

David Basketter*, Liran Horev, Dany Slodovnik, Sharon Merimes, Akiva Trattner, Arieh Ingber

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Allergy to chromium is relatively common, often in association with exposure to cement or in leather manufacture. However, in certain locations, there appears to be a relatively large cohort of chromium-sensitive individuals whose allergy cannot be explained by these common sources. In particular, this group include Israeli housewives with persistent hand eczema and concomitant patch test positivity to chromium. The causation of their allergy has been linked with relatively high levels of chromium contamination in household products. To provide further information in respect of the definition of safe levels for such products, we examined 17 chromium-allergic individuals to determine their threshold for reaction under closed patch test ant repeated open application test (ROAT) conditions. The data derived indicated that, on normal skin, the patch test threshold was 10 ppm chromium; in the presence of an irritant (sodium lauryl sulfate) the threshold was closer to 1 ppm, 2/17 subjects giving 1+ reactions at this concentration. In the more realistic exposure conditions of the ROAT, 8/14 individuals failed to react to 50 ppm, whilst 3/15 reacted to 5 ppm. Interestingly, there was very poor correlation between patch test sensitivity and ROAT sensitivity. To ensure the large majority of chromium-allergic individuals do not suffer elicitation of their allergy, as well as to limit the development of new chromium-sensitive subjects, it is recommended that household products adhere to a previously published standard of a maximum limit of 5 ppm, with an ultimate target of 1 ppm contamination by chromium.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-74
Number of pages5
JournalContact Dermatitis
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Allergic contact dermatitis
  • Chromium
  • Dichromate
  • Elicitation threshold
  • Exposure limit
  • Household products
  • Prevention
  • Repeated open application test
  • Single closed patch test


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