Cobalt exposure is known to cause adverse effects on health. A major use of cobalt is in the manufacture of hard metal. Exposure can lead to asthma, hard metal lung disease, contact allergy and increased risk of cancer. Cobalt is mainly absorbed from the pulmonary tract, however penetration through skin may occur. The relationships between exposure to inhalable cobalt in air and on skin and the uptake in blood and urine will be investigated, as well as the association between dermal symptoms and dermal exposure.
Cobalt exposure in 71 workers in hard metal production facilities was measured as inhalable cobalt in the breathing zone and cobalt found on skin with acid wash. Uptake of cobalt was determined with concentrations in blood and urine. Correlations between exposure and uptake were analysed.
Inhalable cobalt in air and cobalt in blood and urine showed rank correlations with coefficients 0.40 and 0.25. Cobalt on skin and uptake in blood and urine presented correlation coefficients of 0.36 and 0.17. Multiple linear regression of cobalt in air and on skin with cobalt in blood showed regression coefficients with cobalt in blood (ß = 203 p