Preferred Sample Type

Chromium (Urine)

Suitable Specimen Types

  • Plain Spot Urine
Urine 20 mL into plastic universal container;

Sample Processing in Laboratory

Place in Send Away Fridge.

Sample Preparation

Store at 4oC

Turnaround Time

10 working days

Sample Stability

Store at 4oC and do not freeze

Chromium (Urine)

General Information

Occupational exposure to chromium represents a significant health hazard. Chromium is used extensively in the manufacture of stainless steel, chrome plating, tanning of leather, as a dye for printing and textile manufacture amd as a cleaning solution. The toxic form of chromium, Cr[VI], can only be formed in a strong oxidizing environment as might be found when Cr[III] is exposed to high temperatures in the presence of oxygen (e.g. in high voltage electroplating). Inhalation of the vapours of Cr[VI] causes erosion of the epithelium of the nasal passages and produces squamous-cell carcinomas of the lung.
Situations when chromium may be requested include:

  1. In acute poisoning, measurement of Cr in whole blood and urine is the approach of choice. Plasma and erythrocyte concentrations can yield information as to form of the element involved.
  2. For suspected PN overload, plasma measurement is used.
  3. For on-going occupational exposure, urine is the preferred specimen. In cases where exposure has ceased, or has occurred sporadically, within the last four weeks, blood measurement is more useful. In all circumstances particular care is needed to avoid contamination when collecting specimens.
  4. Monitoring for Cr ?deficiency? is not undertaken because (a) the problem has yet to be convincingly demonstrated in humans and (b) it is extremely difficult to collect blood without contaminating it to concentrations within the normal range.
  5. Concentrations in blood, plasma and urine may be elevated in individuals with metallic prosthetic joints.

It must be noted that in most cases monitoring biological specimens for Cr[VI] is neither practical or clinically useful to detect chromium toxicity because the moment it enters a cell it is reduced to non-toxic Cr[III]. The monitoring of the air at the manufacturing site for Cr[VI] is the usual way to test for potential Cr[VI] exposure.

Patient Preparation



For occupational monitoring, collect urine at end of working week.

Reference Range

Normal values: < 2 nmol/mmol creatinine


  • EQA Status: UK Guildford Trace Elements Scheme

The laboratories at Heartlands Hospital, Good Hope Hospital and Solihull Hospital form part of the services provided by University Hospitals Birmingham and are UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service) accredited to the ISO 15189:2012 standard. For a list of accredited tests and other information please visit the UKAS website using the following link:

  • Heartlands, Good Hope and Solihull Hospital pathology laboratories are a UKAS accredited medical laboratory No.8217
  • United Kingdom Health Security Agency laboratory is a UKAS accredited medical laboratory No.8213

Tests not appearing on the UKAS Schedule of Accreditation currently remain outside of our scope of accreditation. However, these tests have been validated to the same high standard as accredited tests and are performed by the same trained and competent staff.

For further test information, please visit the test database:

Protection of personal information - Laboratory Medicine comply with the Trust Data Protection policy and have procedures in place to allow the Directorate and its employees to comply with the Data Protection act  1998 and associated best practice and guidance.

For further information contact Louise Fallon, Quality Manager, 0121 424 1235