Update on the Airborne Toxic Control Measure for Hexavalent Chromium

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has proposed to phase out Decorative Hex Chrome by 2021, Hard Chrome by 2028 and Chromic Acid Anodize by 2033.

Dear MFACA Members & Supporters:

The Metal Finishing Association of California and the National Association of Surface Finishing were extremely concerned when they learned of the California Air Resources Board plan to phase out hexavalent chromium processing through an update to its Airborne Toxic Control Measure for hexavalent chromium. The Association jumped on this issue instantly reaching out to CARB staff, board members, state legislators, and other executive persons to discuss and raise concerns.


Going into this ATCM update we felt that CARB might adopt SCAQMD Rule 1469 statewide as CARB had participated in all the working group meetings and supported the final rule. Prior to this ATCM, the Association spent years of work, and over six hundred thousand dollars on SCAQMD Rule 1469 to negotiate a workable rule for the industry. Many shops in South Coast have begun to comply with Rule 1469, installing expensive control equipment and making other costly modifications to further reduce emissions.


If this statewide ATCM passed many shops would be left with stranded assets and the inability to service customer requirements, including critical MIL-SPECS for the aerospace and defense industries. Members that process decorative and other essential parts would not be able to service customer and market demands.

The consequences would be disastrous for many of our members in California and could lead to them having to shut down or move out of state. Over the last several months, the Association has pushed forward a massive outreach effort to the industry to make everyone aware of this ATCM proposal and the damage it would cause. Not only to our industry but to many other aligning industries as well.


We continue to work with the CARB staff and have strongly made the point that an alternative to this processing is not workable for many member shops. Banning hexavalent chromium processing would not solve anything nor would it do anything to reduce emissions in a substantial way.

The Association has set up over fifty meetings to help resolve this issue with the ATCM and will continue that engagement. It is our opinion that CARB staff rushed into this ATCM without knowing the science and facts behind what our industry does, and the reasons our customers require this processing. The first CARB ATCM proposal was for rule adoption in December of this year and then an immediate phase-out of decorative and essential hex chrome processing within a year, followed by bans on hard chrome within five years and chromic acid anodize within seven years.

If this ATCM was to pass as proposed it would likely be the beginning of the end for many plating shops in California. Many shops in our Association would no longer be able to service customer requirements and the flow down of this ATCM would impact the entire industry making California an even more difficult place to do business.


It is important to note that the Association has made great progress over the last three months in the rule negotiation with CARB and our outreach efforts. That being said, we still have a lot of work to do. We need your help and support in our continued efforts.

ATCM Rule adoption has now been pushed back from December of 2021 to the end of 2022, or longer because of the cost impacts associated with this ATCM. This gives our Association and industry more time to negotiate a rule that does not include phase-outs or bans. CARB staff has now hinted to the Association that the phase-outs will likely be extended to ten years for decorative chrome. Fifteen years for hard chrome and chromic acid anodize. CARB staff could alter this further as it is being discussed internally. Updated changes will be announced at a future working group meeting.


The Association has taken a hard stance that this ATCM must be emission-based and we will fight a rule that includes a ban, regardless of what date that may be. We are currently working with CARB staff and their executive office on the science associated with this rule. When you look at the science and the technology available to control these processes a ban is not needed. Science must be the driving force behind any regulatory rule.

Our industry has greatly reduced emissions by more than 95% over the last thirty years, and current rules like 1469 will reduce emissions even further. Our industry is less than one percent of all hex chrome emissions statewide, yet the only industry currently facing a ban. We are also the most regulated. Eliminating the plating industry in California will not solve any problems, or reduce emissions. It will lead to more diesel trucks transporting parts in and out of the state, actually increasing emissions. It will also lead to the loss of thousands of good jobs in this state and the closing of more California businesses. Many businesses and customers that have required our services for decades would be left stranded.

Relocating our industry outside this state or country with less emission and regulatory controls will accomplish nothing to improve the environment.


We will continue to update members on progress and the Association strategy once we confirm what new changes are being proposed by CARB. We still need everyone’s help at all future working group meetings, and with our continued outreach. If we make this a group effort, success is possible.

Many individuals and member companies have helped in these efforts as of today. Without that help, we would not have made this progress.

The Association would like to thank those that donated to our IEF fund and supported these efforts. If you would like to contribute or get involved in our efforts, please visit bit.ly/SupportMetalFinishing for more information and other important updates.

Bryan Leiker,
Executive Director
Metal Finishing Association of California