What Is Potassium Chromate Used For?

icineuno/iStock/Getty Images

Potassium chromate is an inorganic oxidizing agent. As a compound with a relatively unique profile, potassium chromate has a number of uses in industrial and scientific contexts. However, due to its toxicity, you should limit your exposure to potassium chromate.


Potassium chromate has a distinct bright-yellow color but no odor. This odorless nature becomes problematic when you have exposed yourself to this chemical due to its toxicity. In many cases, you may not realize that you inhaled potassium chromate. Further, inhaling this chemical poses several risks. Potassium chromate is also soluble in water, but not in alcohol, and exists in the form of a powder.

Primary Uses of Potassium Chromate

Potassium chromate enjoys a wide variety of industrial uses. In the textile industry, manufacturers use potassium chromate to tan leather and dye clothing items and fabrics. In science, potassium chromate is often used as an indicator, meaning it can identify the presence, location and quantity of certain elements such as iron. Beyond these applications, potassium chromate also functions as an oxidizing agent in manufacturing and scientific experiments.

Health Risks

As with other chromate compounds, potassium chromate can cause harm to your health if you ingest or inhale this chemical. Potassium chromate is a known carcinogen and can cause cancer. Further, potassium chromate is a poison, and ingesting large amounts of this substance can kill you. In nature, potassium chromate only occurs in a few remote areas of the Atacama Desert in South America. Additionally, potassium chromate can cause birth defects in the event of fetal exposure to this chemical.

Environment Risks

Potassium chromate is also harmful to the environment. When used in any location, for any purpose, potassium chromate requires effective containment and disposal to prevent any runoff or leakage into the environment. Further, potassium chromate has the ability to increase the intensity of a fire should the chemical come into contact with combustible materials.