I've seen more than a few posts lately regarding the environmental impacts on chrome plating, so I thought I'd make a quick post to encourage discussion on the topic.
Tiny background: I'm an engineer (fluid control systems/structural/plastics) and our lil firm is attempting to make enviro friendly changes wherever we can in our design. I ended up doing a few hours of research on chrome plating and that is where the following info came from.
The short story for those that don't want to read is this. "Chrome Plating" generally refers to a process more accurately known as hexavalent chrome plating. A process that is very bad for everyone. It is very unhealthy for workers, and the chemicals involved end up being disposed of (often improperly), etc. etc. No one questions that it is a bad process. In fact, many changes are currently taking place that will effectively ban the current chroming process.
The good news! is that a process referred to as trivalent chrome plating does exist, and is becoming more cost effective as time goes on. As of now, it is effectively the same as hexavalent chrome plating in terms of surface finish, quality, hardness, surface friction, durability, plating tolerance, etc. etc. Really the only prohibitive aspect right now is that shops are required to make changes to their setup in order to plate in this way, so many outfits are resisting the change.
More and more shops are making this switch though, and not too far in the future (I hope), trivalent chrome will be the only chrome!
That said, don't be inherently afraid of new chrome plating, just do some research and find a shop that offers trivalent plating. Some shops are even finding cost savings for various reasons going to this process.
I suppose that wasn't a short answer, but I just felt like a nerdy post. If anyone is interested, here are a few of the basic info websites I found. I have papers and other boring crap, but I doubt anyone wants that.