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Zirconium: Health And Environmental Effects
Jun 06, 2017

Health effects of zirconium


Zirconium and its salts generally have low systemic toxicity. While zirconium is not toxic, it can cause contact irritation to the skin and eyes. If exposed, people should wash their skin or flush their eyes. And it may be a good idea to see a doctor if zirconium has entered someone's eyes. This element can also cause the formation of granulomas in the lungs if it is inhaled. These clusters of immune system cells are formed when the body reacts to foreign particles. This element does not appear to be biologically necessary, although trace amounts are found in many organisms, including people. The estimated dietary intake is about 50 microg. Most passes through the gut without being adsorbed, and that which is adsorbed tends to accumulate slightly more in the skeleton than in tissue.


Zirconium 95 is one of the radionuclides involved in atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons. It is among the long-lived radionuclides that have produced and will continue to produce increased cancer risk for decades and centuries to come.


Environmental effects of zirconium

Zirconium is unlikely to present a hazard to the environment.

While aquatic plants have a rapid uptake of soluble zirconium, land plants have little tendency to absorb it, and indeed 70% of plants that have been tested showed no zirconium to be present at all.