Scientific Opinion on the risks to public health related to the presence of chromium in food and drinking water

trivalent chromium, hexavalent chromium, chemistry, analysis, human dietary exposure, toxicity, risk assessment, benchmark dose, margin of exposure (MOE), tolerable daily intake (TDI)
First published in the EFSA Journal
13 March 2014
27 February 2014
Last Updated
12 June 2014. This version replaces the previous one/s.
Scientific Opinion


EFSA received a request from the Hellenic Food Authority for a scientific opinion on estimation of the risk to human health from the presence of chromium (Cr) in food, particularly in vegetables, and Cr(VI) in bottled water. The CONTAM Panel derived a TDI of 0.3 mg/kg b.w. per day for Cr(III) from the lowest NOAEL identified in an NTP chronic oral toxicity study in rats. Under the assumption that all chromium in food is Cr(III), the mean and 95th percentile dietary exposure across all age groups were well below the TDI and therefore does not raise concerns for public health. In the case of drinking water, the Panel considered all chromium in water as Cr(VI). For non-neoplastic effects the lowest BMDL10 for diffuse epithelial hyperplasia of duodenum in female mice and the lowest BMDL05 for haematotoxicity in male rats in a 2-year NTP study were selected as reference points. The MOEs indicate that for non-neoplastic effects the current exposure levels to Cr(VI) via drinking water are of no concern for public health. For neoplastic effects, the CONTAM Panel selected a lowest BMDL10 for combined adenomas and carcinomas of the mouse small intestine as the reference point. Overall, the calculated MOEs indicate low concern regarding Cr(VI) intake via drinking water (water intended for human consumption and natural mineral waters) for all age groups when considering the mean chronic exposure values with the exception of infants at the upper bound (UB) exposure estimates. MOEs below 10 000 were calculated at the UB 95th percentile exposure estimates, particularly for ‘Infants’, ‘Toddlers’ and ‘Other children’, which were highly influenced by the relatively high occurrence values under the UB assumption. To improve the risk assessment, there is a need for data on the content of Cr(III) and Cr(VI) in food and drinking water.

Panel members at the time of adoption

Diane Benford, Sandra Ceccatelli, Bruce Cottrill, Michael DiNovi, Eugenia Dogliotti, Lutz Edler, Peter Farmer, Peter Fürst, Laurentius (Ron) Hoogenboom, Helle Katrine Knutsen, Anne-Katrine Lundebye, Manfred Metzler, Carlo Stefano Nebbia, Michael O’Keeffe, Ivonne Rietjens, Dieter Schrenk, Vittorio Silano, Hendrik van Loveren, Christiane Vleminckx, and Pieter Wester
Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain
contam [at]
EFSA Journal 2014;12(3):3595
Question Number
On request from
Hellenic Food Authority