The Danish authorities submitted a report proposing a restriction on the placing on the market of leather articles containing chromium VI in concentrations above a certain limit that come into direct and prolonged or repetitive contact with the skin. Chromium VI is known to cause severe allergic contact dermatitis in humans and is able to elicit dermatitis at very low concentrations. In particular, the risk assessment demonstrates that chromium VI present in shoes and other leather articles may cause contact allergies.
Chromium VI is not intentionally used in the preparation of leather from skins and hides and in the manufacturing of articles of leather, but may be formed during the processing by oxidation of chromium III used for the tanning of the leather. According to industry, measures for preventing the formation of chromium VI in leather are implemented in tanneries all across the European Union. Furthermore, many importers of leather articles require that they do not contain chromium VI in measureable concentrations. Nevertheless, surveys have demonstrated that more than 30% of the tested leather articles contain chromium VI in concentrations above 3 mg/kg, which is the concentration limit proposed by the Danish authorities.