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Cobalt & Cobalt Compound Exposure Concerns

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Published on Nov 17, 2016

In 2016, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the 14th Report on Carcinogens. It contained newly reviewed substances that are known or reasonably anticipated to cause cancer in humans. Included in this list was the metallic element cobalt and cobalt compounds that release cobalt ions in vivo.

According to the National Toxicology Program (NTP), cobalt and some cobalt compounds are being listed as reasonably anticipated to be carcinogens. Cobalt in the form of vitamin B12, which helps produce red blood cells and maintain the body’s nervous system, is not included in this listing, since it does not release cobalt ions in the body.

Cobalt is a naturally occurring metallic element that can be present in different forms. It is mixed with other metals to make cemented carbides, bonded diamonds and alloys that can be used to make durable industrial and military products. Rechargeable batteries, some surgical orthopedic joint implants, and pigments used to make a rich blue color for glass, tiles and ceramics are some of the products made with cobalt. Many of the new green energy products coming on the market, such as solar panels, car batteries for electric vehicles, and wind and gas turbines, are made with some forms of cobalt.

The NTP states that cobalt may enter the environment from both natural and human activities. Industrial plants can release cobalt and cobalt compounds into the air and soil. Individuals who work in the hard metal industry producing cobalt powder, working with diamond cutting wheels, or polishing diamonds are at potentially high risk for exposure from inhalation of dust and fumes.

The general population can be exposed to low levels of cobalt by consuming food or water that may be contaminated with cobalt. People with cobalt-containing hip or other surgical implants, especially those which fail due to excessive wear or corrosion, may be exposed to higher levels of cobalt than the general public.

These are just a few things to know about exposure to cobalt and cobalt compounds. To learn more about this or other environmental, health, safety or occupational issues, please visit the websites shown below.

Clark Seif Clark http://www.csceng.com
EMSL Analytical, Inc. http://www.emsl.com
LA Testing http://www.latesting.com
Zimmetry Environmental http://www.zimmetry.com
Healthy Indoors Magazine http://www.iaq.net
VOETS - Verification, Operations and Environmental Testing Services http://www.voets.nyc

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