Agent Name


Alternative Name

Barium and soluble compounds

CAS Number

7440-39-3; varies


Ba, varies

Major Category



Elemental barium; Barium metal; Barium, elemental; [CHEMINFO] UN1400


Metals, Inorganic Compounds


Elemental barium: a silver to white metallic solid; [CAMEO]


"The largest end use of barium is as a "getter" to remove the last traces of gases from vacuum and television picture tubes. It is also used to improve performance of lead alloy grids of acid batteries, as a component of grey and ductile irons, and in the manufacture of steel, copper and other metals." [HSDB]


The soluble salts are toxic: acetate, chloride, hydroxide, oxide, nitrate, and (poly)sulfide. Insoluble salts are rarely toxic: arsenate, chromate, fluroide, oxalate, and sulfate. In the gastric acid of the stomach, barium carbonate (insoluble) converts into barium chloride (soluble). Signs of barium poisoning are abdominal cramping, severe hypokalemia, and paralysis within 2 hours of ingestion. [Goldfrank, p. 1434-5] Concentrated solutions of barium oxide or barium hydroxide are strongly alkaline and corrosive to the skin and eyes. Soluble barium ion is a muscle poison that can cause respiratory arrest and ventricular fibrillation with a lethal dose of about 3-4 g. when absorbed by the gut. [ACGIH] A study of welders using consumable electrodes with high barium content 4 hours daily showed high levels of barium in the urine, but no discernable health effects. [Reference #1] Ingestion of soluble barium compounds in high doses may induce acute renal failure. [Rosenstock, p. 575]

Reference Link

Exposure to soluble barium compounds: an intervent...[Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 1992] - PubMed Result

Exposure Assessment
Skin Designation (ACGIH)

Insufficient data


0.5 mg/m3, as Ba


0.5 mg/m3, as Ba


0.5 mg/m3, as Ba, inhalable fraction(soluble compds)


50 mg/m3, as Ba

Excerpts from Documentation for IDLHs

Human data: It has been reported that the lethal oral dose is 43 to 57 mg Ba/kg [Reeve 1979]. [Note: An oral dose of 43 to 57 mg Ba/kg is equivalent to a 70-kg worker being exposed to 2,007 to 2,660 mg/m3 for 30 minutes, assuming a breathing rate of 50 liters per minute and 100% absorption.]

Half Life

Blood: 18 hours (1.9 hours with hemodialysis); whole body: few days; [TDR, p. 145]

Reference Link

ATSDR - ToxFAQs - Barium

Adverse Effects


ACGIH Carcinogen

Not Classifiable

Links to Other NLM Databases
Health Studies

Human Health Effects from Hazardous Substances Data Bank:

Toxicity Information


Chemical Information

Search ChemIDplus

Biomedical References

Search PubMed

Related Information in HazMap

Industrial Processes with risk of exposure:


Activities with risk of exposure: