As part of the Change Your Shoes project, 64 pairs of leather shoes bought within in the EU and Switzerland were tested for hexavalent chromium (chromium VI).
Chromium VI is a highly toxic, allergenic, mutagenic and carcinogenic substance. It can cause allergic contact dermatitis if it comes into contact with the skin. Its content has therefore been limited to the threshold of 3 mg/kg in leather products by EU legislation.
To test for excess of chromium VI, spot sampling was carried out in 13 European countries on shoes from 23 different companies. None of the shoes tested exceeded the threshold of 3 mg/kg of hexavalent chromium. This study thus indicates that the introduction of a legal limit of hexavalent chromium for leather articles has had a positive effect for consumers. However, companies should not limit their efforts to only guaranteeing safe products for consumers – it is imperative that they also work to guarantee occupational health and safety for all workers producing their shoes.
Published September 2016.