AND BIRTH DEFECTS
The following information on inorganic toxic pollutants was taken from the Federal Agency
For Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

ATSDR, a federal public health agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services, evaluates the human health effects of exposure to hazardous substances.

Laws today protect the welfare of research animals, and scientists must comply with strict
animal care guidelines.

But these laws do not apply to humans on farms who are exposed to chemical and
biological agents from sludge/biosolids contaminate land, contaminate air,
contaminated water and contaminated food. Nor do they apply to home owners who
purchase chemical and biological contaminated sludge/biosolids for their lawn and

1.5 How can aluminum affect my health?
Factory workers who breathe large amounts of aluminum dusts can have lung problems,
such as coughing or changes that show up in chest aluminum-rays.  The use of breathing
masks and controls on the levels of dust in factories have eliminated this problem.  Some
workers who breathe aluminum dusts or aluminum fumes have decreased performance in
some tests that measure functions of the nervous system.  Some people who have kidney
disease store a lot of aluminum in their bodies. The kidney disease causes less aluminum to
be removed from the body in the urine.  Sometimes these people developed bone or brain
diseases that doctors think were caused by the excess aluminum.  Some studies show that
people exposed to high levels of aluminum may develop Alzheimer's disease, but other
studies have not found this to be true.  We do not know for certain whether aluminum
accumulation is a result of the disease or its cause.  People may get skin rashes from the
aluminum compounds in some underarm antiperspirants.  Rats and hamsters showed signs
of lung damage after breathing very large amounts of aluminum as chlorohydrate or pure
metal dust.  Some animals died when they were given very large amounts of aluminum in
water, and others gained less weight than normal.  Animals exposed to aluminum appeared
weaker and less active in their cages, and were less responsive to loud noises.        
1.6 How can aluminum affect children?        

This section discusses potential health effects from exposures during the period from
conception to maturity at 18 years of age in humans.  Potential effects on children resulting
from exposures of the parents are also considered. Children may be exposed to high levels
of aluminum in drinking water.  Brain and bone disease have been seen in children with
kidney disease.  Bone disease has also been seen in children taking some medicines
containing aluminum.  Animals exposed to aluminum appeared weaker and less active in
their cages, and some movements appeared less coordinated than animals not exposed to
aluminum.  In addition, aluminum also made some animals unusually sensitive to high
temperature.  These effects are similar to those seen in adults.  It does not appear that
children are more sensitive than adults.   

1.6 How can arsenic affect children?    

This section discusses potential health effects from exposures during the period from
conception to maturity at 18 years of age in humans.

Children are exposed to arsenic in many of the same ways that adults are. Since arsenic is
found in the soil, water, food, and air, children may take in arsenic in the air they breathe, the
water they drink, and the food they eat. Since children tend to eat or drink less of a variety of
foods and beverages than do adults, ingestion of contaminated food or juice or infant
formula made with arsenic-contaminated water may represent a significant source of
exposure. In addition, since children often play in the dirt and put their hands in their mouths
and sometimes intentionally eat dirt, ingestion of contaminated soil may be a more important
source of arsenic exposure for children than for adults. In areas of the United States where
natural levels of arsenic in the soil and water are high, or in areas in and around
contaminated waste sites, exposure of children to arsenic through ingestion of soil and water
may be significant. In addition, contact with adults who are wearing clothes contaminated with
arsenic (e.g., with dust from copper- or lead-smelting factories, from wood-treating or
pesticide application, or from arsenic-treated wood) could be a source of exposure. Because
of the tendency of children to taste things that they find, accidental poisoning from ingestion
of pesticides is also a possibility. Thus, although most of the exposure pathways for children
are the same as those for adults, children may be at a higher risk of exposure because of
their lack of consistent hygiene practices and their curiosity about unknown powders and

Children who are exposed to arsenic may have many of the same effects as adults, including
irritation of the stomach and intestines, blood vessel damage, skin changes, and reduced
nerve function. Thus, all health effects observed in adults are of potential concern in
children. We do not know if absorption of arsenic from the gut in children differs from adults.
There is some information suggesting that children may be less efficient at converting
inorganic arsenic to the less harmful organic forms. For this reason, children may be more
susceptible to health effects from inorganic arsenic than adults.At present, there is no
convincing evidence that inhaled or ingested arsenic can injure pregnant women or their
fetuses, although studies in animals show that large doses of arsenic that cause illness in
pregnant females can also cause low birth weight, fetal malformations, and even fetal death.
Arsenic can cross the placenta and has been found in fetal tissues. Arsenic is found at low
levels in breast milk
1.6 How can beryllium affect children?        
This section discusses potential health effects from exposures during the period from
conception to maturity at 18 years of age in humans.It is likely that the health effects seen in
children exposed to beryllium will be similar to the effects seen in adults; chronic beryllium
disease was found in a child living near a beryllium factory.  We do not know whether
children differ from adults in their susceptibility to beryllium.We do not know if exposure to
beryllium will result in birth defects or other developmental effects in people.  The studies on
developmental effects in animals are not conclusive.  We have no information to suggest that
there are any differences between children and adults in terms of how much beryllium will
enter the body, where beryllium can be found in the body, and how fast beryllium will leave
the body.  It is likely that beryllium can be transferred from the mother to an infant in breast
milk or that it can cross the placenta.        
1.5 How can beryllium affect my health?        
Beryllium is a metal that can be harmful when you breathe it.  The effects depend on how
much and how long you are exposed to it.  When you breathe it in, beryllium can damage
your lungs.  When you breathe in large amounts of soluble beryllium compounds (greater
than 1 mg beryllium per cubic meter of air, 1 mg/m³), the lung damage resembles pneumonia
with reddening and swelling of the lungs.  This condition is called acute beryllium disease.  
The lung damage may heal if beryllium exposure is stopped.  Human studies have shown
that occupational and community ambient air standards were effective in eliminating most
acute lung disease.  Some people can become sensitive to beryllium.  This is known as
hypersensitivity or allergy.  If you become sensitive (allergic) to beryllium, you may develop
an immune or inflammatory reaction to small amounts of beryllium that do not cause effects
in people who are not sensitive to beryllium.  When this occurs, white cells accumulate
around the beryllium and form a chronic inflammatory reaction called granulomas
(granulomas are not tumors).  This condition is called chronic beryllium disease (CBD).  This
disease can occur long after exposure (10-15 years) to small amounts of either soluble or
insoluble forms of beryllium (greater than 0.0005 mg/m³).  If you have this disease, you may
feel weak, tired, and have difficulty breathing.  Some individuals that have CBD may
experience anorexia, weight loss, and blueness of hands and feet.

This disease could also lead to heart enlargement and heart disease in advanced cases.
Both the short-term, pneumonia-like disease and the chronic beryllium disease can be
1.5 How can cadmium affect my health?        

The potential for cadmium to harm your health depends upon the form of cadmium present,
the amount taken into your body, and whether the cadmium is eaten or breathed.  There are
no known good effects from taking in cadmium.  Breathing air with very high levels of
cadmium can severely damage the lungs and may cause death.  Breathing air with lower
levels of cadmium over long periods of time (for years) results in a build-up of cadmium in the
kidney, and if sufficiently high, may result in kidney disease.  Other effects that may occur
after breathing cadmium for a long time are lung damage and fragile bones.

1.6 How can chromium affect children?        

This section discusses potential health effects from exposures during the period from
conception to maturity at 18 years of age in humans. Children who live near wastes sites
where chromium is found are likely to be exposed to higher environmental levels of chromium
through breathing, touching soil, and eating contaminated soil. Children at age five years or
younger have higher levels of chromium in their urine than do adults and children living
outside of contaminated areas. Very few studies have looked at how chromium can affect the
health of children. Children need small amounts of chromium(III) for normal growth and
development. It is likely that the health effects seen in children exposed to high amounts of
chromium will be similar to the effects seen in adults. We do not know whether children differ
from adults in their susceptibility to chromium. We do not know if exposure to chromium will
result in birth defects or other developmental effects in people. Birth defects have been
observed in animals exposed to chromium(VI). Death, skeletal deformities, and impaired
development of the reproductive system have been observed in the newborn babies of
animals that swallowed chromium(VI). Additional animal studies are needed to determine
whether exposure to chromium(III) will result in birth defects. One animal study showed that
more chromium(III) will enter the body of a newborn than an adult. We do not know if this is
also true for chromium(VI). We have no information to suggest that there are any differences
between children and adults in terms of where chromium can be found in the body, and how
fast chromium will leave the body. Studies with mice have shown that chromium crosses the
placenta and concentrates in fetal tissue. Therefore, pregnant women who were exposed to
chromium in the workplace or by living near chromium waste sites may transfer chromium
from their blood into the baby where it may build up at levels greater than in the mother.
There is some evidence in humans that chromium can be transferred from mother to infant
through breast milk        
1.5 How can chromium affect my health?        
The health effects resulting from exposure to chromium(III) and chromium(VI) are fairly well
described in the literature. In general, chromium(VI) is more toxic than chromium(III).
Breathing in high levels (greater than 2 µg/m³) chromium(VI), such as in a compound known
as chromic acid or chromium(VI) trioxide, can cause irritation to the nose, such as runny
nose, sneezing, itching, nosebleeds, ulcers, and holes in the nasal septum. These effects
have primarily occurred in factory workers who make or use chromium(VI) for several months
to many years.

Long-term exposure to chromium has been associated with lung cancer in workers exposed
to levels in air that were 100 to 1,000 times higher than those found in the natural
environment. Lung cancer may occur long after exposure to chromium has ended. Chromium
(VI) is believed to be primarily responsible for the increased lung cancer rates observed in
workers who were exposed to high levels of chromium in workroom air. Breathing in small
amounts of chromium(VI) for short or long periods does not cause a problem in most people.

However, high levels of chromium in the workplace have caused asthma attacks in people
who are allergic to chromium. Breathing in chromium(III) does not cause irritation to the nose
or mouth in most people. In the same way, small amounts of chromium(VI) that you swallow
will not hurt you; however, accidental or intentional swallowing of larger amounts has caused
stomach upsets and ulcers, convulsions, kidney and liver damage, and even death. The
levels of chromium(VI) that caused these effects were far greater than those that you might
be exposed to in food or water. Although chromium(III) in small amounts is a nutrient needed
by the body, swallowing large amounts of chromium(III) may cause health problems. Workers
handling liquids or solids that have chromium(VI) in them have developed skin ulcers. Some
people have been found to be extremely sensitive to chromium(VI) or chromium(III).

Allergic reactions consisting of severe redness and swelling of the skin have been noted.
Exposure to chromium(III) is less likely than exposure to chromium(VI) to cause skin rashes in
chromium-sensitive people. The metal, chromium(0), is less common and does not occur
naturally. We do not know much about how it affects your health, but chromium(0) is not
currently believed to cause a serious health risk.

We have no reliable information that any form of chromium has harmful effects on
reproduction or causes birth defects in humans, though it does not seem likely that the
amount of chromium that most people are exposed to will result in reproductive or
developmental effects. In animals that breathed high levels of chromium, harmful effects on
the respiratory system and a lower ability to fight disease were noted. However, we do not
know if chromium can lower a person's ability to fight disease. Some of the female mice that
were given chromium(VI) by mouth had fewer offspring and had offspring with birth defects.
Some male mice that were given chromium(VI) or chromium(III) by mouth had decreased
numbers of sperm in the testes. The birth defects or the decrease in sperm occurred in mice
at levels about several thousand times higher than the normal daily intake by humans. Some
chromium(VI) compounds produced lung cancer in animals that breathed in the particles or
had the particles placed directly in their lungs. In animals that were injected with some
chromium(VI) compounds, tumors formed at the site of injection.

Because some chromium(VI) compounds have been associated with lung cancer in workers
and caused cancer in animals, the Department of Health and Human Services has
determined that certain chromium(VI) compounds (calcium chromate, chromium trioxide, lead
chromate, strontium chromate, and zinc chromate) are known human carcinogens. The
International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has determined that chromium(VI) is
carcinogenic to humans, based on sufficient evidence in humans for the carcinogenicity of
chromium(VI) compounds as found in chromate production, chromate pigment production,
and chromium plating industries. IARC's determination is also based on sufficient evidence in
experimental animals for the carcinogenicity of calcium chromate, zinc chromate, strontium
chromate, and lead chromate; and limited evidence in experimental animals for the
carcinogenicity of chromium trioxide (chromic acid) and sodium dichromate. IARC has also
determined that chromium(0) and chromium(III) compounds are not classifiable as to their
carcinogenicity to humans.

The EPA has determined that chromium(VI) in air is a human carcinogen. The EPA has also
determined that there is insufficient information to determine whether chromium(VI) in water
or food and chromium(III) are human carcinogens  

1.6 How can cobalt affect children?        

This section discusses potential health effects from exposures during the period from
conception to maturity at 18 years of age in humans. Children can be exposed to cobalt in
the same ways as adults. In addition, cobalt may be transferred from the pregnant mother to
the fetus or from the mother to the infant in the breast milk. Children may be affected by
cobalt the same ways as adults. Studies in animals have suggested that children may absorb
more cobalt from foods and liquids containing cobalt than adults. Babies exposed to radiation
while in their mother's womb are believed to be much more sensitive to the effects of
radiation than adults        

1.5 How can cobalt affect my health?        
When too much cobalt is taken into your body, however, harmful health effects can occur.
Workers who breathed air containing 0.038 mg cobalt/m3 (about 100,000 times the
concentration normally found in ambient air) for 6 hours had trouble breathing. Serious
effects on the lungs, including asthma, pneumonia, and wheezing, have been found in
people exposed to 0.005 mg cobalt/m3 while working with hard metal, a cobalt-tungsten
carbide alloy. People exposed to 0.007 mg cobalt/m3 at work have also developed allergies
to cobalt that resulted in asthma and skin rashes. The general public, however, is not likely
to be exposed to the same type or amount of cobalt dust that caused these effects in

In the 1960s, some breweries added cobalt salts to beer to stabilize the foam (resulting in
exposures of 0.04-0.14 mg cobalt/kg). Some people who drank excessive amounts of beer (8-
25 pints/day) experienced serious effects on the heart. In some cases, these effects resulted
in death. Nausea and vomiting were usually reported before the effects on the heart were
noticed. Cobalt is no longer added to beer so you will not be exposed from this source. The
effects on the heart, however, may have also been due to the fact that the beer-drinkers had
protein-poor diets and may have already had heart damage from alcohol abuse. Effects on
the heart were not seen, however, in people with anemia treated with up to 1 mg cobalt/kg, or
in pregnant women with anemia treated with 0.6 mg cobalt/kg. Effects on the thyroid were
found in people exposed to 0.5 mg cobalt/kg for a few weeks. Vision problems were found in
one man following treatment with 1.3 mg cobalt/kg for 6 weeks, but this effect has not been
seen in other human or animal studies.

Being exposed to radioactive cobalt may be very dangerous to your health. If you come near
radioactive cobalt, cells in your body can become damaged from gamma rays that can
penetrate your entire body, even if you do not touch the radioactive cobalt. Radiation from
radioactive cobalt can also damage cells in your body if you eat, drink, breathe, or touch
anything that contains radioactive cobalt. The amount of damage depends on the amount of
radiation to which you are exposed, which is related to the amount of activity in the
radioactive material and the length of time that you are exposed. Most of the information
regarding health effects from exposure to radiation comes from exposures for only short time
periods. The risk of damage from exposure to very low levels of radiation for long time
periods is not known. If you are exposed to enough radiation, you might experience a
reduction in white blood cell number, which could lower your resistance to infections. Your
skin might blister or burn, and you may lose hair from the exposed areas. This happens to
cancer patients treated with large amounts of radiation to kill cancer. Cells in your
reproductive system could become damaged and cause temporary sterility. Exposure to
lower levels of radiation might cause nausea, and higher levels can cause vomiting, diarrhea,
bleeding, coma, and even death. Exposure to radiation can also cause changes in the
genetic materials within cells and may result in the development of some types of cancer.

Studies in animals suggest that exposure to high amounts of nonradioactive cobalt during
pregnancy might affect the health of the developing fetus. Birth defects, however, have not
been found in children born to mothers who were treated with cobalt for anemia during
pregnancy. The doses of cobalt used in the animal studies were much higher than the
amounts of cobalt to which humans would normally be exposed.

Nonradioactive cobalt has not been found to cause cancer in humans or in animals following
exposure in the food or water. Cancer has been shown, however, in animals who breathed
cobalt or when cobalt was placed directly into the muscle or under the skin.

Based on the animal data, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has
determined that cobalt is possibly carcinogenic to humans.Much of our knowledge of cobalt
toxicity is based on animal studies. Cobalt is essential for the growth and development of
certain animals, such as cows and sheep. Short-term exposure of rats to high levels of cobalt
in the air results in death and lung damage. Longer-term exposure of rats, guinea pigs,
hamsters, and pigs to lower levels of cobalt in the air results in lung damage and an increase
in red blood cells. Short-term exposure of rats to high levels of cobalt in the food or drinking
water results in effects on the blood, liver, kidneys, and heart. Longer-term exposure of rats,
mice, and guinea pigs to lower levels of cobalt in the food or drinking water results in effects
on the same tissues (heart, liver, kidneys, and blood) as well as the testes, and also causes
effects on behavior. Sores were seen on the skin of guinea pigs following skin contact with
cobalt for 18 days. Generally, cobalt compounds that dissolve easily in water are more
harmful than those that are hard to dissolve in water.

Much of what we know about the effects of radioactive cobalt comes from studies in animals.
The greatest danger of radiation seen in animals is the risk to the developing animal, with
even moderate amounts of radiation causing changes in the fetus. High radiation doses in
animals have also been shown to cause temporary or permanent sterility and changes in the
lungs, which affected the animals' breathing. The blood of exposed animals has lower
numbers of white blood cells, the cells that aid in resistance to infections, and red blood cells,
which carry oxygen in the blood. Radioactive cobalt exposures in animals have also caused
genetic damage to cells, cancer, and even death

1.6 How can copper affect children?  

This section discusses potential health effects in humans from exposures during the period
from conception to maturity at 18 years of age. Exposure to high levels of copper will result in
the same types of effects in children and adults. We do not know if these effects would occur
at the same dose level in children and adults. Studies in animals suggest that children may
have more severe effects than adults; we do not know if this would also be true in humans.
There is a very small percentage of infants and children who are unusually sensitive to
copper. We do not know if copper can cause birth defects or other developmental effects in
humans. Studies in animals suggest that ingestion of high levels of copper may cause a
decrease in fetal growth.

1.5 How can copper affect my health?        
  Long-term exposure to copper dust can irritate your nose, mouth, and eyes, and cause
headaches, dizziness, nausea, and diarrhea. If you drink water that contains higher than
normal levels of copper, you may experience nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, or diarrhea.
Intentionally high intakes of copper can cause liver and kidney damage and even death. We
do not know if copper can cause cancer in humans. EPA does not classify copper as a
human carcinogen because there are no adequate human or animal cancer studies.  

1.6 How can lead affect children?        

This section discusses potential health effects from exposures during the period from
conception to maturity at 18 years of age in humans.  Potential effects on children resulting
from exposures of the parents are also considered. Studies carried out by the Center for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that the levels of lead in the blood of U.S.
children have been getting lower and lower.  This is because lead is banned from gasoline,
residential paint, and solder that is used for food cans and water pipes.  Still, about 900,000
U.S. children between the ages of 1 and 5 years are believed to have blood lead levels equal
or greater than 10 µg/dL, the CDC level of concern.  Children are more vulnerable to lead
poisoning than adults.  Children are exposed to lead all through their lives.  They can be
exposed to lead in the womb if their mothers have lead in their bodies.  Babies can swallow
lead when they breast feed, or eat other foods and drink water that contains lead.  Babies
and children can swallow and breathe lead in dirt, dust, or sand while they play on the floor
or ground.  These activities make it easier for children to be exposed to lead than adults.  
The dirt or dust on their hands, toys, and other items may have lead particles in it.  In some
cases children swallow nonfood items such as paint chips; these may contain very large
amounts of lead,  particularly in and around older houses that were painted with lead-based
paint.  The paint in these houses often chips off and mixes with dust and dirt.  Some old paint
is 5-40% lead.  Also, compared to adults, a bigger proportion of the amount of lead
swallowed will enter the blood in children.  Children are more sensitive to the effects of lead
than adults.  Lead affects children in different ways depending how much lead a child
swallows.  A child who swallows large amounts of lead will develop blood anemia, kidney
damage, colic (severe "stomachache"), muscle weakness, and brain damage which can kill
the child.  A large amount of lead might get into a child's body if the child ate small pieces of
old paint that contained large amounts of lead.  If a child swallows smaller amounts of lead,
much less severe effects on blood and brain function may occur.  In this case, recovery is
likely once the child is removed from the source of lead exposure and the amount of lead in
the child's body is lowered by giving the child certain drugs that help eliminate lead from the
body.  At still lower levels of exposure, lead can affect a child's mental and physical growth.  
Fetuses exposed to lead in the womb, because their mothers had a lot of lead in their
bodies, may be born prematurely and have lower weights at birth.  Exposure in the womb, in
infancy, or in early childhood may also slow mental development and lower intelligence later
in childhood.  There is evidence that some effects may persist beyond childhood.        
1.5 How can lead affect my health?        

The effects of lead are the same whether it enters the body through breathing or swallowing.  
The main target for lead toxicity is the nervous system, both in adults and in children.  Long-
term exposure of adults to lead at work has resulted in decreased performance in some tests
that measure functions of the nervous system. Lead exposure may also cause weakness in
fingers, wrists, or ankles.  Some studies in humans have suggested that lead exposure may
increase blood pressure, but the evidence is inconclusive.  Lead exposure may also cause
anemia, a low number of blood cells.  The connection between the occurrence of some of
these effects (e.g., increased blood pressure, altered function of the nervous system) and
low levels of exposure to lead is not certain.  At high levels of exposure, lead can severely
damage the brain and kidneys in adults or children.  In pregnant women, high levels of
exposure to lead may cause miscarriage.  High-level exposure in men can damage the
organs responsible for sperm production.

We have no proof that lead causes cancer in humans. Kidney tumors have developed in rats
and mice given large doses of lead.  The animal studies have been criticized because of the
very high doses used, among other things.  The results of high-dose studies should not be
used to predict whether lead may cause cancer in humans.  The Department of Health and
Human Services (DHHS) has determined that lead acetate and lead phosphate may
reasonably be expected to be capable of causing cancer, based on sufficient evidence from
animal studies, but there is inadequate evidence from human studies     

1.6 How can manganese affect children?

Adverse health effects have also been observed in children who cannot get rid of extra
manganese from their body, such as children whose livers do not function properly. These
effects include a lack of control over movements in their arms and legs, a tendency to
overbalance when walking, and uncontrollable shaking in their arms and hands. In addition to
children with problems removing excess manganese from their bodies, some, but not all,
children who must have liquid-form nutrition injected into their veins, called total parenteral
nutrition (TPN), have also shown these effects. In the cases involving liquid diets, the
children had no control over the foods they ate, and there may have been too much
manganese in the liquid food. These same effects have been observed in adults with similar
liver conditions or on liquid diets. More serious health effects are typically observed only in
people who have inhaled manganese in a work environment for many years. These
occupational environments tend to have manganese levels that are much higher than the
typical environment (10-70 nanograms/m³ in urban areas with no significant sources of
manganese). The severe and permanent neurological effects and mood swings that might be
anticipated from occupational studies of adults have not been reported in children. Workers
who have been overexposed to manganese particles in the air have suffered wild mood
swings, uncontrollable laughter or crying at inappropriate times, and abnormal facial
expressions (stiff with grimacing or blank with no expression). Similar effects have also been
seen in monkeys who have been injected with low levels of manganese for only a few days.
These serious effects of manganese overexposure might be expected in children who have
been exposed to high concentrations of manganese for extended periods, although it is not
known for sure. The levels of manganese children would have to breathe or eat before they
showed these effects is not known.

Limited information suggests that higher-than-usual amounts of manganese can cause birth
defects. One study in humans suggests that high levels of exposure to environmental
manganese (in the soil, water, air, or food) might increase the chances of birth defects.
However, it is not possible to reach a conclusion from this study because other factors were
present that may have caused the birth defects. Studies involving animals exposed to
manganese in air are limited. One study in animals shows that exposure of pregnant females
to high levels of manganese in air resulted in decreased body weight in the pups. Other
studies investigating birth defects have used different exposure methods. One study that
involved exposing pregnant rats and their offspring to manganese in drinking water (over
21,000 times the amount that is typically recom­mended as safe for people to eat each day)
found that the rat pups had a short-lived decrease in body weight and an increase in activity.
Higher concentrations (approximately 37,000 times the recommended safe amount for
humans) of manganese provided in food to animals were associated with decreased activity,
while lower concentrations (approximately 1,100 times the recommended safe amount for
humans) given all at once each day to rodents can cause delays in the growth of
reproductive organs, decreased pup weight, mistakes in skeletal formation, behavioral
differences in animals, and changes in the brain.

Other studies in which pregnant animals have been injected with manganese show that
negative effects can be seen in unborn pups. These studies have reported delays in
formation of skeletal bones and internal organs, suggesting that the skeletal system is a
target for birth defects caused by manganese. However, except when manganese is
administered via a liquid form of nutrition injected into their veins, humans are not exposed to
manganese through injection.

Because manganese is a normal part of the human body, it is always present in the tissues
and bloodstream of the mother; in addition, it can cross the placenta and enter an unborn
baby. Manganese has been measured in plasma from the umbilical cord blood of premature
and full_term babies, as well as in the blood of their mothers. The concentrations of
manganese found in full_term babies were slightly higher than the concentrations found in
premature babies, though these levels were not significantly different. Also, manganese
levels in the livers of pregnant rats were much higher than those in non-pregnant rats, and
the manganese levels in their unborn pups were higher than usual. Although the few
available animal studies indicate that excess manganese interferes with normal development
of the fetus, the relevance of these studies to humans is not known. There is no information
available on the effects in pregnant women from exposure to excess levels of manganese in
air, food, or water.

Manganese is necessary for proper nutrition for a rapidly growing infant. The element is
present in breast milk at approximately 4-10 µg/L, an amount that appears to be adequate
for a nursing baby. Studies show that infant formulas contain more manganese than breast
milk, but that infants absorb the same proportion of manganese from infant formulas, cow's
milk, and breast milk. However, because cow milk formulas and soy formulas contain much
larger amounts of manganese than breast milk, infants who are fed these formulas ingest
much higher amounts of manganese than breast-fed infants. Whether these higher amounts
of manganese are unhealthy for the infant is unknown.

1.6 How can mercury affect children?

This section discusses potential health effects from exposures during the period from
conception to maturity at 18 years of age in humans. Potential effects on children resulting
from exposures of the parents are also considered.

Children are at risk of being exposed to metallic mercury that is not safely contained, to
mercury that may be brought home on work clothes or tools, or to methylmercury-
contaminated foods. Methylmercury eaten or swallowed by a pregnant woman or metallic
mercury that enters her body from breathing contaminated air can also pass into the
developing child. Inorganic mercury and methylmercury can also pass from a mother's body
into breast milk and into a nursing infant. The amount of mercury in the milk will vary,
depending on the degree of exposure and the amount of mercury that enter the nursing
woman's body. There are significant benefits to breast feeding, so any concern that a
nursing woman may have about mercury levels in her breast milk should be discussed with
her doctor. Methylmercury can also accumulate in an unborn baby's blood to a concentration
higher than the concentration in the mother.

For similar exposure routes and forms of mercury, the harmful health effects seen in children
are similar to the effects seen in adults. High exposure to mercury vapor causes lung,
stomach, and intestinal damage and death due to respiratory failure in severe cases. These
effects are similar to those seen in adult groups exposed to inhaled metallic mercury vapors
at work.

Children who had been exposed to excessive amounts of mercurous chloride tablets for
worms or mercurous chloride-containing powders for teething discomfort had increased heart
rates and elevated blood pressure. Abnormal heart rhythms were also seen in children who
had eaten grains contaminated with very high levels of methylmercury.
Other symptoms of poisonings in children who were treated with mercurous chloride for
constipation, worms, or teething discomfort included swollen red gums, excessive salivation,
weight loss, diarrhea and/or abdominal pain, and muscle twitching or cramping in the legs
and/or arms. Kidney damage is very common after exposure to toxic levels of inorganic
mercury. Metallic mercury or methylmercury that enters the body can also be converted to
inorganic mercury and result in kidney damage.

Children who breathe metallic/elemental mercury vapors, eat foods or other substances
containing phenylmercury or inorganic mercury salts, or use mercury-containing skin
ointments for an extended period may develop a disorder known as acrodynia, or pink
disease. Acrodynia can result in severe leg cramps; irritability; and abnormal redness of the
skin, followed by peeling of the hands, nose, and soles of the feet. Itching, swelling, fever,
fast heart rate, elevated blood pressure, excessive salivation or sweating, rashes,
fretfulness, sleeplessness, and/or weakness may also be present. It was once believed that
this syndrome occurred only in children, but recent reported cases in teenagers and adults
have shown that they can also develop acrodynia.

In critical periods of development before they are born, and in the early months after birth,
children and fetuses are particularly sensitive to the harmful effects of metallic mercury and
methylmercury on the nervous system. Harmful developmental effects may occur when a
pregnant woman is exposed to metallic mercury and some of the mercury is transferred into
her developing child. Thus, women who are normally exposed to mercury vapors in the
workplace (such as those working in thermometer/barometer or fluorescent light
manufacturing or the chlor-alkali industry) should take measures to avoid mercury vapor
exposures during pregnancy. Exposures to mercury vapors are relatively rare outside of the
workplace, unless metallic mercury is present in the home.

As with mercury vapors, exposure to methylmercury is more dangerous for young children
than for adults, because more methylmercury easily passes into the developing brain of
young children and may interfere with the development process.

Methylmercury is the form of mercury most commonly associated with a risk for
developmental effects. Exposure can come from foods contaminated with mercury on the
surface (for example, from seed grain treated with methylmercury to kill fungus) or from foods
that contain toxic levels of methylmercury (as in some fish, wild game, and marine mammals).
Mothers who are exposed to methylmercury and breast-feed their infant may also expose the
child through the milk. The effects on the infant may be subtle or more pronounced,
depending on the amount to which the fetus or young child was exposed. In cases in which
the exposure was relatively small, some effects might not be apparent, such as small
decreases in IQ or effects on the brain that may only be determined by the use of very
sensitive neuropsychological testing. In instances in which the exposure is great, the effects
may be more serious. In some such cases of mercury exposure involving serious exposure to
the developing fetus, the effects are delayed. In such cases, the infant may be born
apparently normal, but later show effects that may range from the infant being slower to
reach developmental milestones, such as the age of first walking and talking, to more severe
effects including brain damage with mental retardation, incoordination, and inability to move.
Other severe effects observed in children whose mothers were exposed to very toxic levels
of mercury during pregnancy include eventual blindness, involuntary muscle contractions
and seizures, muscle weakness, and inability to speak. It is important to remember, however,
that the severity of these effects depends upon the level of mercury exposure and the length
of exposure. The very severe effects just mentioned were reported in large-scale poisoning
instances in which pregnant and nursing women were exposed to extremely high levels of
methylmercury in contaminated grain used to make bread (in Iraq) or seafood (in Japan) sold
to the general population.

Researchers are currently studying the potential for less serious developmental effects,
including effects on a child's behavior and ability to learn, think, and solve problems that may
result from eating lower levels of methylmercury in foods. A main source of exposure to
methylmercury for the pregnant woman and the young child is from eating fish. Most fish
purchased in the market in the United States do not have mercury levels that pose a risk to
anyone, including pregnant women. Since mercury accumulates in the muscles of fish, larger
fish that feed on smaller fish and live for long periods usually have larger concentrations of
methylmercury than fish that feed on plants. For example, shark and swordfish normally
contain the highest levels of mercury out of all ocean fish. Scientists have an ongoing debate
about the value of fish in the diet versus any risk from increased exposure of pregnant
women to methylmercury that may be in the fish. The safety of most fish sold commercially in
the United States is regulated by the FDA. These fish pose no health risk to those who
purchase and eat them. Only fish or wildlife containing relatively high levels of methylmercury
are of concern

1.6 How can nickel affect children?

This section discusses potential health effects from exposures during the period from
conception to maturity at 18 years of age in humans.

It is likely that the health effects seen in children exposed to nickel will be similar to the
effects seen in adults. We do not know whether children differ from adults in their
susceptibility to nickel. Human studies that examined whether nickel can harm the developing
fetus are inconclusive. Animal studies have found increases in newborn deaths and
decreases in newborn weight after ingesting nickel. These doses are 1,000 times higher than
levels typically found in drinking water. It is likely that nickel can be transferred from the
mother to an infant in breast milk and can cross the placenta

1.5 How can nickel affect my health?

Laws today protect the welfare of research animals, and scientists must comply with strict
animal care guidelines

The most common harmful health effect of nickel in humans is an allergic reaction to nickel.
Approximately 10-15% of the population is sensitive to nickel. A person can become sensitive
to nickel when jewelry or other things containing nickel are in direct contact with the skin.
Wearing earrings containing nickel in pierced ears may also sensitize a person to nickel.
Once a person is sensitized to nickel, further contact with the metal will produce a reaction.
The most common reaction is a skin rash at the site of contact. In some sensitized people,
dermatitis (a type of skin rash) may develop in an area of the skin that is away from the site
of contact. For example, hand eczema (another type of skin rash) is fairly common among
people sensitized to nickel. Less frequently, some people who are sensitive to nickel have
asthma attacks following exposure to nickel. People who are sensitive to nickel have
reactions when nickel comes into contact with the skin. Some sensitized individuals react
when they eat nickel in food or water or breathe dust containing nickel. More women are
sensitive to nickel than men. This difference between men and women is thought to be a
result of greater exposure of women to nickel through jewelry and other metal items.
People who are not sensitive to nickel must eat very large amounts of nickel to suffer harmful
health effects. Workers who accidentally drank light-green water containing 250 ppm of
nickel from a contaminated drinking fountain had stomach aches and suffered adverse
effects in their blood (increased red blood cells) and kidneys (increased protein in the urine).
This concentration of nickel is more than 100,000 times greater than the amount usually
found in drinking water.

The most serious harmful health effects from exposure to nickel, such as chronic bronchitis,
reduced lung function, and cancer of the lung and nasal sinus, have occurred in people who
have breathed dust containing nickel compounds while working in nickel refineries or nickel-
processing plants. The levels of nickel in these workplaces were much higher than usual
(background) levels in the environment. Lung and nasal sinus cancers occurred in workers
who were exposed to more than 10 mg nickel/m³ as nickel compounds that were hard to
dissolve (such as nickel subsulfide). Exposure to high levels of nickel compounds that
dissolve easily in water (soluble) may also result in cancer when nickel compounds that are
hard to dissolve (less soluble) are present, or when other chemicals that can cause cancer
are present. The concentrations of soluble and less-soluble nickel compounds that were
found to have caused cancers were 100,000 to 1 million times greater than the usual level of
nickel in the air in the United States. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
(DHHS) has determined that nickel metal may reasonably be anticipated to be a carcinogen
and nickel compounds are known human carcinogens. The International Agency for
Research on Cancer (IARC) has determined that some nickel compounds are carcinogenic
to humans and that metallic nickel may possibly be carcinogenic to humans. The EPA has
determined that nickel refinery dust and nickel subsulfide are human carcinogens.
Lung inflammation and damage to the nasal cavity have been observed in animals exposed
to nickel compounds. At high concentrations, the lung damage is severe enough to affect
lung function. Long-term exposure to lower levels of a nickel compound that dissolves easily
in water did not cause cancer in animals. Lung cancer developed in rats exposed for a long
time to nickel compounds that do not dissolve easily in water.

Oral exposure of humans to high levels of soluble nickel compounds through the
environment is extremely unlikely. Because humans have only rarely been exposed to high
levels of nickel in water or food, much of our knowledge of the harmful effects of nickel is
based on animal studies. Eating or drinking levels of nickel much greater than the levels
normally found in food and water have been reported to cause lung disease in dogs and rats
and to affect the stomach, blood, liver, kidneys, and immune system in rats and mice, as well
as their reproduction and development

1.5 How can selenium affect my health?

The general public rarely breathes high levels of selenium, although some people may be
exposed to selenium dust and selenium compounds in workplace air. Dizziness, fatigue, and
irritation of mucous membranes have been reported in people exposed to selenium in
workplace air at concentrations higher than legal levels. In extreme cases, collection of fluid
in the lungs (pulmonary edema) and severe bronchitis have been reported. The exact
exposure levels at which these effects might occur are not known, but they become more
likely with increasing amounts of selenium and with increasing frequency of exposure.
The normal intake of selenium by eating food is enough to meet the Recommended Daily
Allowance (RDA) for this essential nutrient. However, as discussed in Chapters 2 and 3 of
this profile, selenium compounds can be harmful at daily dietary levels that are higher than
needed. The seriousness of the effects of excess selenium depends on how much selenium
is eaten and how often. Intentional or accidental swallowing of a large amount of sodium
selenate or sodium selenite (for example, a very large quantity of selenium supplement pills)
could be life-threatening without immediate medical treatment. Even if mildly excessive
amounts of selenium are eaten over long periods, brittle hair and deformed nails can
develop. In extreme cases, people may lose feeling and control in arms and legs. These
health effects, called selenosis, were seen in several villages in China where people were
exposed to foods high in selenium for months to years. No human populations in the United
States have been reported with long-term selenium poisoning, including populations in the
western part of the country where selenium levels are naturally high in the soil. Because
most people in the United States eat foods produced in many different areas, overexposure
to selenium in food is unlikely to occur.

In some regions of China where soil levels of selenium are very low, not eating enough
selenium has resulted in health effects. Selenium is used by the body in antioxidant enzymes
that protect against damage to tissues done by oxygen, and in an enzyme that affects growth
and metabolism. Not eating enough selenium can cause heart problems and muscle pain.
Muscle pain has also been noted in people fed intravenously for a long time with solutions
that did not contain selenium. Babies born early may be more sensitive to not having enough
selenium, and this may contribute to lung effects. In the United States, selenium in food is
sufficient to meet the RDA and prevent harmful effects from not enough selenium.

Upon contact with human skin, industrial selenium compounds have been reported to cause
rashes, redness, heat, swelling, and pain. Brief, acute exposure of the eyes to selenium
dioxide as a dust or fume in workplace air may result in burning, irritation, and tearing.
However, only people who work in industries that process or use selenium or selenium
compounds are likely to come into contact with levels high enough to cause eye irritation.
Studies of laboratory animals and people show that most selenium compounds probably do
not cause cancer. In fact, some studies of cancer in humans suggest that lower-than-normal
selenium levels in the diet might increase the risk of cancer. Other studies suggest that
dietary levels of selenium that are higher than normal might reduce the risk of cancer in
humans. However, taking selenium so that your daily amount is greater than that required
might just increase your risk of selenium poisoning.

Based on studies done until 1987, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)
determined that selenium and selenium compounds could not be classified as to their ability
to cause cancer in humans. However, since then, the EPA has determined that one specific
form of selenium, called selenium sulfide, is a probable human carcinogen. Selenium sulfide
is the only selenium compound shown to cause cancer in animals. Rats and mice that were
fed selenium sulfide daily at very high levels developed cancer. Selenium sulfide is not
present in foods, and it is a very different chemical from the organic and inorganic selenium
compounds found in foods and in the environment. Also, if introduced into the environment,
selenium sulfide does not dissolve readily in water and would probably bind tightly to the soil,
further reducing any chance of exposure. Because selenium sulfide is not absorbed through
the skin, the use of anti-dandruff shampoos containing selenium sulfide is generally
considered safe.

Very high amounts of selenium have caused decreased sperm counts, increased abnormal
sperm, changes in the female reproductive cycle in rats, and changes in the menstrual cycle
in monkeys. The relevance of the reproductive effects of selenium exposure in animals
studied to potential reproductive effects in humans is not known. Selenium compounds have
not been shown to cause birth defects in humans or in other mammals

1.4 How can thallium affect my health?

Thallium can affect your nervous system, lung, heart, liver, and kidney if large amounts are
eaten or drunk for short periods of time. Temporary hair loss, vomiting, and diarrhea can
also occur and death may result after exposure to large amounts of thallium for short
periods. Thallium can be fatal from a dose as low as 1 gram. No information was found on
health effects in humans after exposure to smaller amounts of thallium for longer periods.
Birth defects observed in children of mothers exposed to small amounts of thallium did not
occur more often than would be expected in the general population. The length of time and
the amount of thallium eaten by the mothers are not known exactly. As in humans, animal
studies indicate that exposure to large amounts of thallium for brief periods of time can
damage the nervous system and heart and can cause death. Animal reproductive organs,
especially the testes, are damaged after drinking small amounts of thallium­contaminated
water for 2 months. These effects have not been seen in humans. No information was found
on effects in animals after exposure to small amounts of thallium for longer periods of time.
No studies were found on whether thallium can cause cancer in humans or animals
1.3 How can thallium enter and leave my body?

Thallium can enter your body when you eat food or drink water contaminated with thallium,
breathe thallium in the air, and when your skin comes in contact with it. When thallium is
swallowed most of it is absorbed and rapidly goes to various parts of your body, especially
the kidney and liver. Thallium leaves your body slowly. Most of the thallium leaves your body
in urine and to a lesser extent in feces. It can be found in urine within 1 hour after exposure.
After 24 hours, increasing amounts are found in feces. It can be found in urine as long as 2
months after exposure. About half the thallium that enters various parts of your body leaves
them within 3 days.

The significant, likely routes of exposure near hazardous waste sites are through swallowing
thallium­contaminated soil or dust, drinking contaminated water, and skin contact with
contaminated soil


1.6 How can tin and tin compounds affect children?

This section discusses potential health effects from exposures during the period from
conception to maturity at 18 years of age in humans.

Children can be exposed to tin compounds (inorganic or organic) in the same manner as
adults: through the diet or by contact with contaminated soil at or near hazardous waste sites
where these compounds are found. Some children eat significant amounts of dirt (a behavior
called pica), which may lead to increased exposure if the soil is contaminated. In addition,
children can be exposed if family members work with tin compounds and bring home tin
residues in their clothing or tools.

There are no studies on health effects in children exposed to tin compounds. However, it is
reasonable to assume that children would exhibit the same type of health effects observed in
exposed adults. We do not know whether children are more susceptible to the effects of
exposure to tin and tin compounds than adults. There are no reports of adverse
developmental effects in humans exposed to tin or its compounds, nor of inorganic tin in
animals. Studies in animals have shown that organotin compounds can cross the placenta
and reach the fetus. Exposure of rodents to some organotins during pregnancy has
produced birth defects in the newborn animals. The results of several studies suggest that
this may occur only at high exposure levels that cause maternal toxicity, but further research
is needed to clarify this issue. One study found that rats whose mothers were exposed to
tributyltin during pregnancy showed altered performance in some neurological tests
conducted when they were young adults. Another study, also with tributyltin, found that
exposure during gestation, lactation, and post-lactation affected some developmental
landmarks in female rats. There are no reports of tin or tin compounds in human breast milk,
and there is no direct evidence in animals of transfer of these compounds to the young
through nursing

1.5 How can tin and tin compounds affect my health?

Because inorganic tin compounds usually enter and leave your body rapidly after you
breathe or eat them, they do not usually cause harmful effects. However, humans who
swallowed large amounts of inorganic tin in a research study suffered stomach aches,
anemia, and liver and kidney problems. Studies with inorganic tin in animals have shown
similar effects to those observed in humans. There is no evidence that inorganic tin
compounds affect reproductive functions, produce birth defects, or cause genetic changes.
Inorganic tin compounds are not known to cause cancer.

Inhalation (breathing in), oral (eating or drinking), or dermal exposure (skin contact) to some
organotin compounds has been shown to cause harmful effects in humans, but the main
effect will depend on the particular organotin compound. There have been reports of skin
and eye irritation, respiratory irritation, gastrointestinal effects, and neurological problems in
humans exposed for a short period of time to high amounts of certain organotin compounds.
Some neurological problems have persisted for years after the poisoning occurred. Lethal
cases have been reported following ingestion of very high amounts. Studies in animals have
shown that certain organotins mainly affect the immune system, but a different type primarily
affects the nervous system. Yet, there are some organotins that exhibit very low toxicity.
Exposure of pregnant rats and mice to some organotin compounds has reduced fertility and
caused stillbirth, but scientists still are not sure whether this occurs only with doses that are
also toxic to the mother. Some animal studies also suggested that reproductive organs of
males may be affected. There are no studies of cancer in humans exposed to organotin
compounds. Studies of a few organotins in animals suggest that some organotin compounds
can produce cancer. On the basis of no data in humans and questionable data from a study
in rats, EPA has determined that one specific organotin, tributyltin oxide, is not classifiable as
to human carcinogenicity; that is, it is not known whether or not it causes cancer in humans


1.5 How can zinc affect my health?

Inhaling large amounts of zinc (as zinc dust or fumes from smelting or welding) can cause a
specific short-term disease called metal fume fever. However, very little is known about the
long-term effects of breathing zinc dust or fumes.

Taking too much zinc into the body through food, water, or dietary supplements can also
affect health. The levels of zinc that produce adverse health effects are much higher than
the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for zinc of 11 mg/day for men and 8 mg/day
for women. If large doses of zinc (10-15 times higher than the RDA) are taken by mouth even
for a short time, stomach cramps, nausea, and vomiting may occur. Ingesting high levels of
zinc for several months may cause anemia, damage the pancreas, and decrease levels of
high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

Eating food containing very large amounts of zinc (1,000 times higher than the RDA) for
several months caused many health effects in rats, mice, and ferrets, including anemia and
injury to the pancreas and kidney. Rats that ate very large amounts of zinc became infertile.
Rats that ate very large amounts of zinc after becoming pregnant had smaller babies. Putting
low levels of certain zinc compounds, such as zinc acetate and zinc chloride, on the skin of
rabbits, guinea pigs, and mice caused skin irritation. Skin irritation from exposure to these
chemicals would probably occur in humans. EPA has determined that because of lack of
information, zinc is not classifiable as to its human carcinogenicity.