Genotoxic Effects of Metal Compounds
Genotoxic effects are important indicators of carcinogenicity. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified compounds of arsenic, chromium (VI), nickel and cadmium as carcinogenic to humans (IARC 1980, 1990, 1993). Based on animal data, the German Science Foundation (DFG) also has classified antimony trioxide, beryllium and cobalt as mammalian carcinogens (DFG 1992). In addition, certain metals further the generation of tumors in animals depending on their chemical form and route of administration (Sunderman 1984; Lauwerys 1989; Magos 1991). Regarding the potential risk to human by airborn carcinogens, a German Government Commission has ranked seven substances as the most important for the general population. These are (in decreasing order of contribution to the total risk): polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, asbestos, benzene and four metals, i.e. chromium, arsenic, cadmium and nickel. The carcinogenic potential of metals is highly dependent on their speciation. Only the chromates (with chromium in its hexavalent state) but not Cr(III) compounds are carcinogens, since the chromates are able to penetrate cell membranes via anion carriers whereas Cr(III) is not (Jenette 1979). Nickel metal and nickel subsulfide are more efficient carcinogens than nickel chloride, since the soluble nickel ion is taken up slowly. At variance, the soluble CdCl2 is a stronger carcinogen than the weakly soluble CdS, since the soluble ion is better bioavailable (Heinrich et al. 1989). With iron and platinum, only special complexes with enhanced bioavailability are carcinogenic to animals. These include the complexes Fe(III)NTA (Ebina et al. 1986) and cis Pt(II)Cl2(NH3)2 (Leopold et al. 1979).
KeywordsZinc Nickel Magnesium Welding Chromium
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