Despite the known health hazards, hexavalent chromium and other toxic chemicals continue to be used in the aerospace/defense industry, due to the technical performance and economic challenges of transitioning to safer alternatives. One technical performance challenge is the perception that the long term corrosion inhibiting properties of the hexavalent chromium free alternatives are not as effective as the hexavalent chromium containing materials. The economic challenge lies in the costs associated with adopting new materials and processes.
The Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at the University of Massachusetts Lowell is collaborating with representatives from industry (e.g. Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, and Bombardier) and government organizations (e.g. NASA, Navy, Air Force and the Army) to investigate and evaluate various safer materials and manufacturing processes.