Cobalt poisoning

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Cobalt poisoning
Classification and external resources
Specialty emergency medicine
ICD-10 T56.8
ICD-9-CM 985.8
DiseasesDB 2882
MedlinePlus 002495

Cobalt poisoning is intoxication caused by excessive levels of cobalt in the body. Cobalt is an essential element for health in animals in minute amounts as a component of Vitamin B12. A deficiency of cobalt, which is very rare, is also potentially lethal, leading to pernicious anemia.[1]

How cobalt enters the body[edit]

Exposure to cobalt metal dust is most common in the fabrication of tungsten carbide. Another potential source is wear and tear of metal-on-metal hip prostheses; however, this is a relatively uncommon phenomenon with 18 reported cases being documented in the medical literature.[2]

Toxicity of cobalt salts[edit]

The LD50 values of soluble cobalt salts has been estimated to be between 150 and 500 mg/kg. Thus, for a 100 kg person the LD50 would be about 20 grams.[1]

Cobalt in the environment[edit]

Plants, animals, and humans can all be affected by high cobalt concentrations in the environment. For plants, the uptake and distribution of cobalt is entirely species specific.[3] In some species of plants, the over accumulation of cobalt can lead to an Iron deficiency (plant disorder). This in turn leads to poor growth of the plant as well as leaf loss which overall decreases the amount of oxygen produced by plants during photosynthesis. Eventually the deficiency would lead to plant death.[4] One such example was seen in an experiment involving the effects of increased cobalt concentration on tomato plants. As the dosage of cobalt in the soil surrounding the plants increased, so too did the rate of necrosis of the leaves of the tomato plant. Over time this led to an inability of the plant to produce fruit and eventually the plant died.[5]


  1. ^ a b John D. Donaldson; Detmar Beyersmann (2005). "Cobalt and Cobalt Compounds". Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry. Weinheim: Wiley-VCH. doi:10.1002/14356007.a07_281.pub2. 
  2. ^ Zywiel, MG; Cherian, JJ; Banerjee, S; Cheung, AC; Wong, F; Butany, J; Gilbert, C; Overgaard, C; Syed, K; Jacobs, JJ; Mont, MA (January 2016). "Systemic cobalt toxicity from total hip arthroplasties: review of a rare condition Part 2. measurement, risk factors, and step-wise approach to treatment". The bone & joint journal. 98–B (1): 14-20. doi:10.1302/0301-620X.98B1.36712. PMID 26733510. 
  3. ^ The Botanical Review 60(2):149-181 · April 1994 DOI: 10.1007/BF02856575
  4. ^ Palit, S., Sharma, A. & Talukder, G. Bot. Rev (1994) 60: 149. doi:10.1007/BF02856575
  5. ^ Rajeev Gopal , B. K. Dube , Pratima Sinha & C. Chatterjee Pages 619-628 | Published online: 05 Feb 2007