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Mark Campanale

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Hazards/Symptoms of RCRA 8 Metals: Cadmium

Posted by Mark Campanale on Feb 21, 2011 1:48:00 PM

Andy Joy, Life Sciences Expertby Andy Joy, Life Sciences Account Manager

Next on our series of RCRA 8 Metals is Cadmium.  A little history: Cadmium was discovered in 1817 from an impurity in zinc carbonate.  Cadmium is mostly obtained as a by-product in the treatment of zinc, copper, and lead ores.  It is a bluish-white, soft metal that can easily be cut with a knife.

We as human’s intake cadmium mainly through food – in some cadmiumdifferent forms; through mushrooms, shellfish, mussels, cocoa powder, and dried seaweed.  However, if it’s a RCRA 8, there has to be consequences.

The most common way people are exposed to Cadmium is through first-hand, or second-hand smoke from tobacco.  When we smoke, the cadmium travels to our lungs, and then from the lungs, our blood will transport the cadmium throughout our bodies.  The first organ it attacks is our liver.  In the liver, the Cadmium will bond to proteins that will pass to our kidney’s, which in turn damages our filtering mechanisms.

Acute exposure to Cadmium fumes may cause flu-like symptoms including the chills, fever, and “the Cadmium blues” (muscle aches).  Chronic exposures lead to reproductive failure and possibly even infertility, damage to the central nervous system and immune system, psychological disorders, and even DNA damage or cancer development.  A huge health effect of long-term exposure to Cadmium is bone fracture.  The reason being is the bones become soft, lose their mineral density and become weak.  You will feel pain in your back and joints, which increases the risk of fractures.  In extreme cases, just your body weight can cause a fracture.

Topics: Andy Joy, RCRA, hazardous waste, cadmium, heavy metal poisoning, arsenic

Hazards/Symptoms of RCRA 8 Metals: Barium

Posted by Mark Campanale on Feb 8, 2011 8:44:00 AM

Andy Joy, Life Sciences Expertby Andy Joy, Life Sciences Account Manager

Next on the list of RCRA 8 metals is Barium.  You can never find Barium in its pure form in nature, due to its reactivity with air; Barium is mostly found in combinations with sulfates and carbonates.

The thing about Barium, is that its compounds have numerous applications:

  1. Barium carbonate is a rat poison.
  2. Barium oxide is used to coat the electrodes of fluorescent lamps, which helps the release of electrons.
  3. Barium carbonate is used in glass making – since it’s a heavy element, barium increase the refractive index (speed of light) of the glass.
  4. Barium nitrate is used to give fireworks it’s green colors.

Barium compounds (soluble) are poisonous.  It’sbarium nitrate makes fireworks green only a muscle stimulant at low doses; however, a higher dose can affect the nervous system, tremor, dyspnea, paralysis – all leading to cause cardiac irregularities.  The reason being is its ability to block potassium ions channels that make the nervous system function. 

Barium is a common poison found in everyday places; it’s used to manufacture paint and tile, to lubricate drill bits when digging for oil, and even in drinking water.  So to avoid barium, have your drinking water tested for any chemical or poison contaminants.  We all know that drinking water has trace amount of everything, but the local government will have regulations on the limits of each.  Make sure you’re aware of any nearby oil wells, refineries, or mines; it may seep into the air or water near your home.  If working with barium compounds, make sure you get tested regularly to eliminate any long term exposures.

Do you have any other common places that barium can be found?

 

Hazards/Symptoms of RCRA 8 Metals: Arsenic

Posted by Mark Campanale on Jan 31, 2011 9:43:00 AM

Andy Joy, Life Sciences Epertby Andy Joy, Life Sciences Account Manager

Most of us are all aware of the RCRA 8’s (Arsenic, Barium, Cadmium, Chromium, Lead, Mercury, Selenium, and Silver).  For those who aren’t or are new to the industry, these metals are ones not to take likely.  I mean, they have their own “designated name.”

I’ll begin with Arsenic.  You might not believe this, but ArsenicArsenic is one of the RCRA 8 is found in food, water, and many household items; but in very limited quantities.  It’s also found in tobacco smoke, laundry detergent, seafood, and beer.  Even though the benefits are not known, it is believed that arsenic is essential in trace amounts; especially for your digestive system.  Toxicity occurs if doses are larger than 250 mcg/day (most diets have about 140 mcg/day).

Symptoms of arsenic poisoning starts with headaches, confusion, and drowsiness; as the poisoning furthers, convulsions and changes in fingernail pigmentation occurs.  Once acute, then diarrhea, vomiting, blood in the urine, cramping muscles, and hair loss ensues.  If the arsenic exposure is more chronic, this ultimately leads to many types of cancer: skin cancer, liver cancer, and lung cancer, as well as hair loss and fingernail pigmentation.

Symptoms of Arsenic poisoning

One interesting fact I found is that if you feel you have been exposed to arsenic, your must include lots of sulfur in your diet (not elemental sulfur, of course).  Some foods that contain a high content of sulfur are: eggs, onions, beans, legumes, and garlic.  Or you can go the more direct route and buy sulfur tablets (but please consult your doctor first).

Does anyone else know of any other ways to combat arsenic once the recommended amount is exceeded?