New restrictions on Chromium VI in leather articles that come into direct and prolonged or repetitive contact with the skin are due to come into force next year in the European Union (EU).

And the changes will have an impact on a wide range of products such as footwear, gloves, garments, and accessories such as hats, belts, braces, watchstraps, purses, wallets and bags, according to Bureau Veritas Consumer Products Services UK - which has gained accreditation for Chromium VI testing in leather products.

The amendment of Annex XVII of the EU's REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemical substances) regulation is due to come into force in the first quarter of 2015.

The new requirement prohibits the placing of leather articles and articles containing leather parts on the market if the content of Chromium VI is equal to or greater than 3 mg/kg of the total dry weight of leather in the item. This is not applicable to second-hand products.

Chromium VI can cause severe allergic contact dermatitis in humans and is able to elicit dermatitis at very low concentrations.

Much of the world's leather production is tanned with chromium salts which enable the finished leather to be suitable for a range of end-uses.

Chromium VI is not intentionally used in the preparation of leather from skins and hides and in the manufacturing of articles of leather, but may be formed during the processing by oxidation of Chromium III used for the tanning of the leather.

The only internationally recognised analytical method available to detect Chrome VI in leather is EN ISO 17075.