Metals & Metalloids

Exponent scientists have deep technical expertise in metals/metalloids toxicology, exposure assessments and modeling, metals epidemiology, and industrial hygiene.. Exponent staff are knowledgeable of current governmental activities toward the regulation of various metals and metalloids and the health risk assessments that underlie these activities. Our scientists have published over 300 peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals involving analysis of metals and metalloids. We also have several licensed physicians and registered nurses on staff who can aid in review of medical records and the evaluation of differential diagnoses related to metals exposure. In addition, we have experience in conducting evaluations of environmental health related to releases of metals from industrial point sources.

Metals and metalloids typically possess properties of high electrical and thermal conductivity, as well as mechanical strength and malleability, which make them important in various industrial processes. For example, they are important materials in construction (e.g., buildings, bridges, and railroads), the manufacture of cars and other transportation vehicles, for the conduction of electrical power, and in the manufacturing of various electronics. They are also used in medical devices, jewelry, and the production of a number of everyday household items such as cookware and appliances. Metals and metalloids are naturally occurring elements; however, their widespread use in manufacturing processes has contributed to environmental metals pollution and human exposures.

Because metals and metalloids are ubiquitous in the environment and life has evolved in their presence, some metals are essential for certain biological processes. Iron, zinc, copper, manganese, chromium (Cr3+), molybdenum and selenium are all necessary for life in trace amounts. This means that exposure to either too low or too high amounts of these trace metals can cause adverse effects on health. In contrast, other metals such as beryllium, arsenic, chromium (Cr6+), lead, mercury, or nickel are not beneficial to health and may be associated with increasing toxicity at increasing exposures.

Exponent's Expertise Related to Metals and Metalloids

Exponent scientists have performed a variety of assessments related to metals and metalloids. We have conducted risk assessments for metals exposure from various environmental media (air, soil, groundwater, surface water), taking into consideration adjustments to account for the oral bioavailability of different metals and the potential bioaccumulation of certain metals in fish. We have also evaluated metals exposure from different consumer products such as toys, jewelry, keys, electrical products, ceramics, and cookware. Related to a wide range of occupational exposures, we have provided industrial hygiene support, assessed to potential for exposures, conducted medical reviews, and evaluated the available epidemiological data to develop appropriate exposure control plans. We have examined issues related to metals sensitization and the need for monitoring blood leaves of certain metals in children.