Potassium dicromate, also known as chromic acid, has a wide range of uses, including as an oxidizer in many chemical and industrial applications and in the dyeing, staining and tanning of leather. It is also used medically as an external antiseptic or astringent and is present in some veterinary medications.
Potassium dichromate is considered highly toxic and is a corrosive poison if internally ingested. For this reason, it must be handled with extreme care. The compound is a crystalline ionic solid and has a very bright reddish-orange color.
There is some debate as to the actual health risks posed by potassium dichromate. This compound and all other chromates are considered to be potential cancer-causing agents or carcinogens by the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety. However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Pesticide Programs has classified potassium dichromate as most likely not carcinogenic to humans.
The compound can easily be dispersed through the air, making risk of inhalation one of the bigger dangers associated with it. Long term exposure to the chemical through inhalation may lead to asthma. The chemical is also corrosive to the eyes, skin and respiratory tract and may cause damage to the kidneys and liver if ingested.