Toxin Profiles

Substance Name

Cobalt
Identification Number: CASRN | 7440-48-4

  Nastiness Attributes


  • Known Human Carcinogen

    This is a serious nasty substance. Exposure to this substance leads to cancer in Humans. Exercise extreme caution with this substance, explore your exposure routes and very seriously consider complete avoidance. See further details under Toxins.

  • Carcinogenic Properties

    Accumulating evidence points to cancer potential. Exercise caution with this substance, explore your exposure routes and consider complete avoidance. See further details under Toxins.

  • Metabolic Interference or Disruption

    Interferes with human metabolism. This can be a very serious thing. Some of these interference mechanics are well established. However, often long term effects and health consequences remain largely unknown. Additionally an emerging area of concern and one that is not currently studied, is the combined synergistic effects these metabolically disrupting chemicals have on human health.

    Metabolic interference happens when the substance produces highly reactive and often damaging intermediates during detoxification or when the substance binds to specific enzymes, important structural groups on molecules, receptors and membranes or targets DNA or mimics key nutrients.

  • Exposure Produces Health Symptoms

    Symptoms maybe short term or long term depending on the exposure duration and intensity and effects areas like Cardiovascular, Gastrointestinal, Cognition, Fatigue. A substance with this attribute may cause an allergic skin reaction, serious eye irritation, allergy or asthma symptoms or breathing difficulties if inhaled.

  • Toxic to Wildlife

    May kill plants, fish, birds or other animals and insects or may be very toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects. This then effects delicate environmental ecology and food supply in ways we don't fully understand yet.


  • CATEGORIES: Chemicals detected in flowback and produced water - collectively referred to as - hydraulic fracturing wastewater | Cigarette Toxin | Household Toxin | Industrial/Workplace Toxin | Pollutant | Airborne Pollutant | Food Toxin | Natural Toxin | Indirect Additives Used in Food Contact Substances | A Hazardous Substance that may be found in the Australian Workplace
  • SUBSTANCE LINEAGE: Inorganic Compounds | Homogeneous Metal Compounds | Homogeneous Transition Metal Compounds | | Homogeneous Transition Metal Compounds
  • SYNONYMS: Co(2+) | Co2+ | Cobalt ion | Cobalt(2+) | Cobalt(2+) ion | Cobalt(II) | Cobalt(II) cation | Cobalt(II) ion
  • DESCRIPTION: Has been used in CSG, Hydraulic Fracturing Operations (Fracking) as - Unknown | Cobalt has a molecular weight of 58.9 and an atomic number of 27. In the Periodic Table, close to other transition metals, it is situated in group 8, together with rhodium and iridium and it can occur in four oxidation states (0, +2, +3 and +4). The +2 and the ground state are the most common. Cobalt occurs in the minerals cobaltite (Co, Fe) AsS, smaltite (CoAs2), and erythrite Co3(AsO4)2.8H2O, and is often associated with nickel, silver, lead, copper, and iron ores, from which it is most frequently obtained as a by-product. Depending on the considered species, cobalt has multiple industrial applications including the production of alloys and hard metal, diamond polishing, drying agents, pigments and catalysts. Hard metal or cemented carbide is a powder metallurgical product consisting of hard, wear-resistant carbide particles bound together (cemented) with a ductile metal binder (i.e. metallic Co) by liquid phase sintering. Tungsten carbide (WC) is produced by mixing tungsten powder with pure carbon powder at high temperature; hereafter WC is mixed with Co powder to which paraffin is added as a binder. Depending on specific requirements related to their use, hard metals might additionally contain small quantities of chromium, niobium, molybdenum, titanium, tantalum or vanadium carbides. Inhalation and skin contact are the main occupational exposure routes. Occupational exposure to cobalt may result in adverse health effects in different organs or tissues, including the respiratory tract, the skin, the hemapoietic tissues, the myocardium or the thyroid gland. In addition, teratogenic and carcinogenic effects have been observed in experimental systems and/or in humans. For the general population, the diet constitutes the main route of exposure to cobalt, since it is an essential component of Vitamin B12 (hydroxycolalamin). Cobalt functions as a co-factor in enzyme catalysed reactions and is involved in the production of erythropoietin, a hormone that stimulates the formation of erythrocytes. This last property of cobalt was applied in the past as a therapy for anaemia. The carcinogenic potential of cobalt and its compounds was evaluated in 1991 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which concluded that there was inadequate evidence for carcinogenicity in humans (lung cancer) but sufficient evidence in experimental animal studies. In most experimental studies considered, the routes of exposure were, however, of questionable relevance for cancer risk assessment in humans for example, local sarcomas after intra-muscular injection. The general conclusion was that cobalt and its compounds are possibly carcinogenic to humans (group 2B). Since this evaluation, additional data have been accumulated which generally indicate that, depending on the considered cobalt species, different outcomes regarding toxicity, mutagenicity and carcinogenicity can be observed. Physiologically, it exists as an ion in the body. Co(II) ions are genotoxic in vitro and in vivo, and carcinogenic in rodents. Co metal is genotoxic in vitro. Hard metal dust, of which occupational exposure is linked to an increased lung cancer risk, is proven to be genotoxic in vitro and in vivo. Possibly, production of active oxygen species and/or DNA repair inhibition are mechanisms involved. Given the recently provided proof for in vitro and in vivo genotoxic potential of hard metal dust, the mechanistic evidence of elevated production of active oxygen species and the epidemiological data on increased cancer risk, it may be advisable to consider the possibility of a new evaluation by IARC.(A7687).
  • COMMENTS: From Safe Work Australia and the Hazardous Substances Information System (HSIS) in Australia: May cause allergy or asthma symptoms or breathing difficulties if inhaled. May cause an allergic skin reaction. May cause long lasting harmful effects to aquatic life | Chronic Health Hazard | A Hazardous Substance that may be found in the Australian Workplace. Check with your employer or health and safety officer. Stay informed and become aware of the dangers that surround you. This chemical is included on the list of recognised hazardous chemicals from the Safe Work Australia - Hazardous Substances Information System (HSIS) that is based on the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations are the basis for hazardous chemicals regulations in Commonwealth, State and Territory jurisdictions in Australia. Under the model WHS Regulations, manufacturers and importers of substances, mixtures and articles supplied for use in workplaces are required to determine whether they are hazardous to health and safety before supply. The model WHS Regulations mandate that the hazards of a chemical as determined by the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) must be included in safety data sheets and on labels. There are transitional arrangements in place for moving to the GHS-based system.The GHS Hazardous Chemical Information List contains chemicals classified by an authoritative source (such as the European Commission or NICNAS) in accordance with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (the GHS). This list contains the vast majority of chemicals currently in HSIS. This list and its detail are regularly updated by Work Safe Australia. The model Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations require chemicals to be classified in accordance with the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). However transitional arrangements allow use of classification information in HSIS derived from the Approved Criteria until the 31 December 2016.
  • toxin chemical structure pubchem
  • FORMULA: Co
  • DATA SOURCES: DATA SOURCES: ARTICLE 4 | T3DB | PubChem | IARC | OEHHA | EPA in USA | FDA Indirect Food Additives | Safe Work Australia - Hazardous Substances Information System (HSIS)
  • LAST UPDATE: 21/04/2015

  Health Associations

Mostly focused on Health Implications of Long Term Exposure to this substance

  • SYMPTOMS: Cobalt inhalation can cause asthma-like breathing problems. Skin contact is known to result in contact dermatitis, which is characterized by irritation and rashes. Ingesting large amounts of cobalt may cause nausea and vomiting. (L2090)
  • POSSIBLE HEALTH CONSEQUENCES: Exposure to high amount of cobalt can cause heart, lung, kidney, and liver damage. Skin contact is known to result in contact dermatitis. Cobalt may also have mutagenic and carcinogenic effects. (L29, L30) | Cobalt is absorbed though the lungs, gastrointestinal tract, and skin. Since it is a component of the vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin), it is distributed to most tissues of the body. It is transported in the blood, often bound to albumin, with the highest levels being found in the liver and kidney. Cobalt is excreted mainly in the urine and faeces. (L29)
  • ACTION OF TOXIN: Cobalt is believed to exhibit its toxicity through a oxidant-based and free radical-based processes. It produces oxygen radicals and may be oxidized to ionic cobalt, causing increased lipid peroxidation, DNA damage, and inducing certain enzymes that lead to cell apoptosis. Cobalt has also been shown to block inorganic calcium channels, possibly impairing neurotransmission. Cobalt can also chelate lipoic acids, impairing oxidation of pyruvate or fatty acids. In addition, cobalt may inhibit DNA repair by interacting with zinc finger DNA repair proteins, and has also been shown to inhibit heme synthesis and glucose metabolism. Cobalt may activate specific helper T-lymphocyte cells and interact directly with immunologic proteins, such as antibodies (IgA and IgE) or Fc receptors, resulting in immunosensitization. (L29) | Cobalt inhibits carbonic anhydrases.(A38, A98)
  • TOXIN SITES OF ACTION IN CELL: "Cytoplasm", "Extracellular"
  • Additional Exposure Routes: Cobalt is used to produce alloys used in the manufacture of aircraft engines, magnets, grinding and cutting tools, artificial hip and knee joints. Cobalt compounds are also used to color glass, ceramics and paints, and used as a drier for porcelain enamel and paints.

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  Exposure Routes

These are the Exposure Routes we have so far for this substance. There are almost certainly more. We update this section regularly. The number of chemicals with 2 or more nastiness attributes in an exposure route is shown in orange. They grey badge shows the total amount of chemicals within the exposure route.


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