Chromium is a chemical element with symbol Cr and atomic number 24. It is the first element in Group 6. It is a steely-grey, lustrous, hard and brittle metal which takes a high polish, resists tarnishing, and has a high melting point. The name of the element is derived from the Greek word χρῶμα, chrōma, meaning color, because many of the compounds are intensely colored.
Ferrochromium alloy is commercially produced from chromite by silicothermic or aluminothermic reactions and chromium metal by roasting and leaching processes followed by reduction with carbon and then aluminium. Chromium metal is of high value for its high corrosion resistance and hardness. A major development was the discovery that steel could be made highly resistant to corrosion and discoloration by adding metallic chromium to form stainless steel. Stainless steel and chrome plating (electroplating with chromium) together comprise 85% of the commercial use.
Trivalent chromium (Cr(III)) ion is an essential nutrient in trace amounts in humans for insulin, sugar and lipid metabolism, although the issue is debated.
While chromium metal and Cr(III) ions are not considered toxic, hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)) is toxic and carcinogenic. Abandoned chromium production sites often require environmental cleanup.