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Toxicity of metals

  1. Feb 12, 2015 #1
    Is it safe to not use a glove to handle a small block of pure cobalt metal? Is a pure tungsten rod safe too? Are there any long term effects?

    Thank you so much.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 12, 2015 #2
  4. Feb 12, 2015 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    Salts are highly toxic, but metallic cadmium is relatively safe.

    That is, rod as the one shown on the picture is much more dangerous when used as a club than because of its chemical properties.
  5. Feb 12, 2015 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

  6. Feb 12, 2015 #5


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    Toxic metals, such as thallium, that are dangerous to handle are usually "flagged" with unusual shapes, triangular cross-section rods for thallium, as well as being in containers with "Do not breathe dust! Do not dispose of in fire!" warnings all over them.
  7. Feb 12, 2015 #6

    Quantum Defect

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    If you read Oliver Sacks memoir, "Uncle Tungsten," there is a nice story of young Oliver handling tungsten at his uncle's factory. Given that tungsten was used for years and years and years as the filament in incandescent light bulbs, I expect we would have found out about any minor toxicity of the metal coming from workers in light bulb factories. In the US, you would also be seeing commercials on late night television asking: "Have you or a loved one worked in the lightbulb industry? If so, you may be entitled to a large cash award..." Since none of this is happening, I expect it is safe to assume that tungsten is benign...
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