Christie Clinic - Medicine for Your Life

Our website is currently having technical difficulties. To view the site, please click here

Health Encyclopedia

Health Encyclopedia

An invaluable resource of health information.

related items

Read More
Images

Cobalt poisoning

Cobalt is a naturally occurring element in the earth’s crust. It is a very small part of our environment and very small amounts are needed for many animals and humans to stay healthy.

Cobalt poisoning can occur when you are exposed to large amounts of cobalt. There are three basic ways that cobalt can cause poisoning. You can swallow too much of it, breathe too much into your lungs, or have it come in constant contact with your skin.

This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

  • Alternative Names
    Cobalt chloride; Cobalt oxide; Cobalt sulfate
  • Poisonous Ingredient

    Cobalt

  • Where Found

    Cobalt is a component of vitamin B12, an essential vitamin.

    Cobalt may also be found in:

    • Alloys
    • Batteries
    • Chemistry/crystal sets
    • Drill bits and machine tools
    • Dyes and pigments (Cobalt Blue)
    • Magnets
    • Tires

    Note: This list may not be all-inclusive.

  • Symptoms

    Usually you have to be exposed to high levels of cobalt for weeks to months to have symptoms. However, it is possible to have some symptoms if you swallow a large amount of cobalt at once.

    The most worrisome form of cobalt poisoning occurs when you breathe too much into your lungs. This usually will only happen in industrial settings where large amounts of drilling, polishing, or other processes release fine particles containing cobalt into the air. Breathing in this cobalt dust can cause a lot of chronic lung problems. If you breathe in this substance for long periods, you will likely develop problems breathing similar to asthma or more permanent problems, such as pulmonary fibrosis.

    Cobalt poisoning that occurs from constant contact with your skin will likely cause irritation and rashes that will go away slowly.

    Swallowing a large amount of absorbable cobalt at one time is very rare and likely not too dangerous. This may cause nausea and vomiting. However, if you swallow a large amount of cobalt over longer periods of time, serious health problems can occur, including:

    • Cardiomyopathy (a problem where your heart becomes big and floppy and has problems pumping blood)
    • Possible nerve problems
    • Thickening of your blood
    • Thyroid problems
  • Home Treatment

    If you or someone you know has been exposed to cobalt, the first step is to leave the area and get fresh air. If cobalt came in contact with the skin, wash the area thoroughly.

  • Before Calling Emergency

    If possible, determine the following information:

    • Patient's age, weight, and condition (for example, is the person awake or alert?)
    • Name of the product (ingredients and strengths, if known)
    • Time it was swallowed
    • Amount swallowed

    However, DO NOT delay calling for help if this information is not immediately available.

  • Poison Control, or a local emergency number

    The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.

    This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

    See: Poison control center - emergency number

  • What to expect at the emergency room

    If you are brought to the emergency room, it is likely because you either swallowed a large amount of cobalt or because you are starting to feel sick from long-term exposure.

    Treatment for skin contact: Since these rashes are rarely serious, very little will be done. The area may be washed and a skin cream may be prescribed.

    Treatment for lung involvement: Breathing problems will be treated based on your symptoms. Breathing treatments and medications to treat swelling and inflammation in your lungs may be prescribed. X-rays may be taken.

    Treatment for swallowed cobalt: The health care team will treat your symptoms and order some blood tests. In the rare cases where you have large levels of cobalt in your blood, hemodialysis is performed and medications (antidotes) to reverse the effects of the poison may be given.

  • Expectations (prognosis)

    Persons who become sick from being exposed to large amounts of cobalt on one single occasion usually recover and have no long-term complications.

    The symptoms and problems associated with long-term cobalt poisoning are rarely reversible. Persons who have such poisoning will likely have to take medicine for the rest of their life to control the symptoms.

  • References

    Goldfrank LR, ed. Goldfrank's Toxicologic Emergencies. 8th ed. New York, NY: McGraw Hill; 2006.

Review Date: 2/3/2009

Reviewed By: John E. Duldner, Jr., MD, MS, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine, Samaritan Regional Health System, Ashland, Ohio. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2014 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
adam.com
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic at the Family Medical Center in Paris Photo Christie Clinic at the Family Medical Center in Paris
727 East Court Street Paris, IL 61944 Dermatology: 366-1248; Vein and Vascular: 366-2670
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic on University Photo Christie Clinic on University
101 West University Avenue Champaign, IL 61820 Main Phone: (217) 366-1200
Billing Services: (217) 366-1382
Toll Free: (888) 391-0412
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic on Windsor/Convenient Care Photo Christie Clinic on Windsor/Convenient Care
1801 West Windsor Road Champaign, IL 61822 (217) 366-8000
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic at Presence Covenant Photo Christie Clinic at Presence Covenant
1400 West Park Street Urbana, IL 61801 (217) 366-1200
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Rantoul Photo Christie Clinic in Rantoul
209 West Borman Drive Rantoul, IL 61866 (217) 892-9671
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Mahomet/Convenient Care Photo Christie Clinic in Mahomet/Convenient Care
1001 Commercial Drive Mahomet, IL 61853 Main Number: (217) 586-6600 Convenient Care: (217)366-8130
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Tuscola Photo Christie Clinic in Tuscola
300 North Main Street Tuscola, IL 61953 (217) 253-9258
Christie Clinic CU Sleep Photo CU Sleep
1207 South Mattis Avenue Champaign, IL 61821 (217) 355-1684
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic Cancer Center Photo Christie Clinic Cancer Center
109 West University Avenue Champaign, IL 61820 (217) 366-5180
Christie Clinic Convenient Care in County Market (Kirby & Duncan) Photo Convenient Care in County Market (Kirby & Duncan)
2901 West Kirby Avenue Champaign, IL 61821 (217) 366-8130
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Urbana/Convenient Care Photo Christie Clinic in Urbana/Convenient Care
1710 East Windsor Road Urbana, IL 61802 (217) 344-9440
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Danville on Logan Photo Christie Clinic in Danville on Logan
800 North Logan Avenue Danville, IL 61832 (217) 431-8930
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic on Fox Drive Photo Christie Clinic on Fox Drive
2110 Fox Drive, Suite B Champaign, IL 61820
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Monticello at Kirby Medical Group Specialty Clinic Photo Christie Clinic in Monticello at Kirby Medical Group Specialty Clinic
1109 B North State Street Monticello, IL 61856 (217) 366-1304
Gibson Area Hospital
1120 N Melvin Gibson City, IL 60936 (217) 784-2240
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Mattoon Photo Christie Clinic in Mattoon
105 B Professional Plaza Mattoon, IL 61938 (217) 345-3000
Christie Clinic Sarah Bush Lincoln Health System Photo Sarah Bush Lincoln Health System
1000 Health Center Drive Mattoon, IL 61938 (217) 258-2588
Christie Clinic The Champaign SurgiCenter Photo The Champaign SurgiCenter
1702 S. Mattis Avenue Champaign, IL 61821 (217) 326-2030
Christie Clinic The Carle Foundation Hospital Photo The Carle Foundation Hospital
611 West Park Street Urbana, IL 61801 (217) 383-3311
Iroquois Memorial Hospital
200 E. Fairman Ave. Watseka, IL 60970 (815) 432-5841
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Savoy Photo Christie Clinic in Savoy
501 North Dunlap Avenue Savoy, IL 61874 Transformations: (217) 366-7460 Internal Medicine: (217) 366-5434 Ophthalmology: (217) 366-1250
Christie Clinic on West Park Street
1405 West Park Street Urbana, IL 61801 217-366-1237
Christie Clinic in Monticello
107 West Main Street Monticello, IL 61856 217.762.3352
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Decatur Photo Christie Clinic in Decatur
100 South Water Street Suite 103 Decatur, IL 62523 217-362-0661- telephone
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Danville on Vermilion/Convenient Care Photo Christie Clinic in Danville on Vermilion/Convenient Care
3545 North Vermilion Street Danville, IL 61832 (217) 442-8611