alexa Environmental biochemistry of chromium.
Molecular Biology

Molecular Biology

Journal of Cytology & Histology

Author(s): Losi ME, Amrhein C, Frankenberger WT Jr

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Abstract Chromium is a d-block transitional element with many industrial uses. It occurs naturally in various crustal materials and is discharged to the environment as industrial waste. Although it can occur in a number of oxidation states, only 3+ and 6+ are found in environmental systems. The environmental behavior of Cr is largely a function of its oxidation state. Hexavalent Cr compounds (mainly chromates and dichromates) are considered toxic to a variety of terrestrial and aquatic organisms and are mobile in soil/water systems, much more so than trivalent Cr compounds. This is largely because of differing chemical properties: Hexavalent Cr compounds are strong oxidizers and highly soluble, while trivalent Cr compounds tend to form relatively inert precipitates at near-neutral pH. The trivalent state is generally considered to be the stable form in equilibrium with most soil/water systems. A diagram of the Cr cycle in soils and water is given in Fig. 6 (Bartlett 1991). This illustration provides a summary of environmentally relevant reactions. Beginning with hexavalent Cr that is released into the environment as industrial waste, there are a number of possible fates, including pollution of soil and surface water and leaching into groundwater, where it may remain stable and, in turn, can be taken up by plants or animals, and adsorption/precipitation, involving soil colloids and/or organic matter. Herein lies much of the environmental concern associated with the hexavalent form. A portion of the Cr(VI) will be reduced to the trivalent form by inorganic electron donors, such as Fe2+ and S2-, or by bioprocesses involving organic matter. Following this conversion, Cr3+ can be expected to precipitate as oxides and hydroxides or to form complexes with numerous ligands. This fraction includes a vast majority of global Cr reserves. Soluble Cr3+ complexes, such as those formed with citrate, can undergo oxidation when they come in contact with manganese dioxide, thus reforming hexavalent Cr. In trace amounts, Cr is an essential component of animal nutrition, functioning mainly in glucose metabolism, and possibly in fat metabolism. While shown to be nonessential for plants, it is required by some microbes, possibly as a cofactor for specific enzyme systems. Bacteria with plasmid-conferred resistance to Cr(VI) have been isolated from water, soil, and sediments, and the resistance mechanisms have been somewhat characterized. One of the chief mechanisms is bioreduction of toxic Cr(VI) to the relatively nontoxic Cr(III). This has been shown to occur directly, by enzymatic processes at the cell membrane, and indirectly, with microbially produced H2S acting as the reductant.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)
This article was published in Rev Environ Contam Toxicol and referenced in Journal of Cytology & Histology

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