Cobalt-containing dust exposures: Prediction of whole blood and tissue concentrations using a biokinetic model


Biokinetic models estimating cobalt (Co) tissue burden can help assess the potential for systemic effects. Such models, however, have not been used to estimate remote tissue concentrations associated with inhalation exposure to Co-containing dust in general environments, work spaces, or animal toxicity tests. We have therefore updated a Co biokinetic model previously developed for oral dosing to include the inhalation pathway by incorporating the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) Human Respiratory Tract Model. Further, data from animal studies allowed for characterization of testes Co tissue concentration supplementing previous predictions for the liver, heart and blood. Reasonable agreement (within a factor of two) was found between modeled and measured blood, liver, testes and tissue concentrations when animal doses were modeled using human equivalent concentrations to account for species differences in regional lung deposition. We applied the updated model to occupational inhalation exposure scenarios, and found that upper-bound plausible human systemic body burden associated with Co ingestion is much higher than the burden associated with Co inhalation. Chronic ingestion of Co at a previously proposed oral reference dose (RfD) of 0.03?mg/kg-day resulted in predicted tissue levels of 22-54??g/L (blood), 0.05-0.1??g/g (heart), 0.01-0.02??g/g (testes), and 0.2-0.5??g/g (liver), which were at least 5-fold more than the systemic burden associated with various Co inhalation occupational exposure limits (OELs) of 0.1?mg/m3 or less (for 8?h/d and 5 d/w). Overall, our analysis indicated that Co-metal or dust induced systemic health effects, including myocardial damage, are unlikely for the inhalation pathway when personal exposures levels are below concentrations associated with local respiratory effects such as pulmonary fibrosis.

Authors: Unice KM, Kovochich M, Monnot AD
; Full Source: The science of the total environment. 2020 Mar 16;723:137968. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.137968. [Epub ahead of print]