Tungsten human toxicity: a compendium of research on metallic tungsten and tungsten compounds
Michael J. Pardus, Ranulfo Lemus-Olalde and Danyle R. Hepler

Over the past several years, a number of tungsten toxicology studies have been conducted by various investigators – primarily by researchers associated with the U.S. military. These studies have focused on soluble forms of tungsten (i.e. tungstate) as well as metallic tungsten. Metallic tungsten and associated heavy alloys (i.e. tungsten alloys containing nickel, iron, copper and/or cobalt) are of interest to the U.S. military in various weapon systems as a replacement for depleted uranium. Additionally, a two-year chronic toxicity study using sodium tungstate is being conducted by the National Toxicology Program.

Only a few of these studies have been published in the peer-reviewed literature. However, the results have been presented at numerous scientific meetings and/or produced as part of formal scientific reports for the sponsoring agencies. From these studies, a picture is starting to emerge that suggests that tungsten exhibits little relative human-health toxicity. This paper provides an overview of those studies, along with their conclusions. The intent of this paper is not to produce a detailed description or analysis of these studies, but to provide highlights of the current tungsten research activities that may be of interest to the scientific community but that have not been addressed or compiled in other venues.

Key words: Department of Defense, health effects, sodium tungstate, toxicology, tungsten, tungsten heavy alloy, U.S. military

Land Contamination & Reclamation, 17 (1), 217-222

DOI 10.2462/09670513.933

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Article code 933