Vanadium

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Vanadium is a white-to-gray metal that naturally exists in nature.[1] It is often found as crystals. Vanadium often combines with other elements to form compounds, including oxygen, sodium, sulfur, and chloride. When vanadium combines with oxygen, it becomes vanadium oxide, which is a yellow-orange powder, dark-gray flakes, or yellow crystals. Vanadium and its compounds are found in the earth's crust, some iron ores, and crude petroleum deposits.

Uses

Vanadium oxide is used in "special kinds of steel that is used for automobile parts, springs, and ball bearings."[2] Vanadium is also combined with iron for use in aircraft engines. Vanadium is also used in rubber, plastics, and ceramics.

In the Environment

Vanadium enters the environment both from natural processes and from human activity like the burning of oil.[3] Once in the environment, it stays in air, water, and soil for a long time. Vanadium does not dissolve in water. It binds strongly to soil and sediments. Vanadium has been found, in low levels, in plants.

In Sewage Sludge

Vanadium can also be released into the environment if it is present in sewage sludge that is applied to land. In the Targeted National Sewage Sludge Survey, a 2009 test of 84 samples of sewage sludge from around the U.S., the EPA found vanadium in every sample in concentrations ranging from 2.04 to 617 parts per million.[4]

Human Exposure

Humans are exposed to vanadium through food, especially seafood.[5] Humans may also inhale vanadium if they live near an industry that burns fuel oil or coal, waste sites, or landfills, or work in an industry that processes vanadium or makes products containing it. However, if ingested, vanadium is not readily absorbed by the body from the stomach or through contact with skin.

Health Effects

Inhaling high levels of vanadium in air can cause lung damage.[6]

"Nausea, mild diarrhea, and stomach cramps have been reported in people ingesting vanadium. A number of effects have been found in animals ingesting vanadium including decreases in the number of red blood cells, increased blood pressure, and mild neurological effects. The amounts of vanadium given in these animal studies that resulted in harmful effects are much higher than those likely to occur in the environment."[7]

Vanadium pentoxide is classified as possibly carcinogenic to humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).[8]

"Studies in animals exposed during pregnancy have shown that vanadium can cause decreases in growth and increases in the occurrence of birth defects.? These effects are usually observed at levels which cause effects in the mother."[9]

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, ToxFAQs for Vanadium, Accessed August 30, 2010.
  2. Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, ToxFAQs for Vanadium, Accessed August 30, 2010.
  3. Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, ToxFAQs for Vanadium, Accessed August 30, 2010.
  4. Targeted National Sewage Sludge Survey Report, US EPA website, Accessed August 28, 2010.
  5. Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, ToxFAQs for Vanadium, Accessed August 30, 2010.
  6. Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, ToxFAQs for Vanadium, Accessed August 30, 2010.
  7. Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, ToxFAQs for Vanadium, Accessed August 30, 2010.
  8. Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, ToxFAQs for Vanadium, Accessed August 30, 2010.
  9. Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, ToxFAQs for Vanadium, Accessed August 30, 2010.

External resources

External articles