Agent Name

Zirconium

Alternative Name

Zirconium and compounds

CAS Number

7440-67-7; varies

Formula

Zr, varies

Major Category

Metals

Synonyms

Zirconium metal: Synonyms of zirconium compounds vary depending upon the specific compound; [NIOSH] Zirconium and compounds; UN1358; UN1932; UN2008; UN2009; UN2858; UN1308;

Category

Metals, Inorganic Compounds

Description

Metal: Soft, malleable, ductile, solid or gray to gold, amorphous; [NIOSH]

Sources/Uses

The metal is used in nuclear energy technology, photoflash bulbs, vacuum tubes, and steel manufacturing (as a scavenger). Zirconium oxide is used in ceramic colorants, metal hardening (platinum and ruthenium), and as a radiopaque material for diagnostic x-rays. Zirconium chloride is used in textiles (water repellant) and tanning. Zircon is a natural zirconium silicate used to make refractories and other ceramics. It is also used as an abrasive. Water soluble zirconium compounds are used in cosmetics. [ACGIH]

Comments

Other than the skin and respiratory irritant effects of zirconium chloride, work-related diseases caused by zirconium have not been documented. [ACGIH] Zirconium compounds, both soluble and insoluble, have the following notation, "Danger of sensitization of the airways and the skin." [MAK] "Repeated inhalation of zirconium tetrachloride mist by dogs for 2 months at 6 mg/m3 as zirconium caused slight decreases in hemoglobin and in erythrocyte counts, with some increases in mortality over that of controls; these effects may have been due to the liberation of hydrogen chloride." [NIOSH Guidelines for Chemical Hazards] "Generally considered to be of low toxicity." Zirconium chloride (ZrCl4) can cause acute pneumonitis. No lung changes were found in 32 workers with 1-17 years of exposure to zirconium metal reactor parts. A lens grinder who mixed zirconium oxide powder and polished optical lenses developed interstitial fibrosis after a latency of 15 years. [Harber, p. 479, 487, 506] Soluble zirconium compounds include nitrates, acetates, sulfates, chlorides, bromides, iodides, and salts of Na, K, and ammonium; Insoluble zirconium compounds include hydroxides, carbonates, and phosphates; [Nordberg, p. 19]

Reference Link

NIOSH Guidelines for Chemical Hazards: Zirconium

Exposure Assessment
Skin Designation (ACGIH)

Insufficient data

TLV (ACGIH)

5 mg/m3, as Zr

STEL (ACGIH)

10 mg/m3

PEL (OSHA)

5 mg/m3, as Zr (compounds)

MAK

1 mg/m3

IDLH (NIOSH)

25 mg/m3, as Zr

Excerpts from Documentation for IDLHs

The available toxicological data indicate that zirconium compounds possess a low order of toxicity. The chosen IDLH has been based on the citation by NIOSH [1976] that a 30minute exposure to 500 mg/m3 of zirconium nitrate is the lowest concentration of this substance which has been shown to be lethal to rats [Mogilevskaya 1967].

Explanatory Notes

"Metal: Combustible, but solid form is difficult to ignite; however, powder form may ignite SPONTANEOUSLY and can continue burning under water." [NIOSH] The Guide from Emergency Response Guidebook is for "zirconium powder, dry."

Reference Link

NIOSH Pocket Guide: Zirconium compounds

Adverse Effects
ACGIH Carcinogen

Not Classifiable

Links to Other NLM Databases
Health Studies

Human Health Effects from Hazardous Substances Data Bank:

Toxicity Information

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Chemical Information

Search ChemIDplus

Biomedical References

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Related Information in HazMap
Diseases

Occupational diseases associated with exposure to this agent:

Processes

Industrial Processes with risk of exposure: