Cerium is a supple, soft, ductile, gray metal, slightly harder than Lead. It is a very active metal: it easily tans the air and oxidizes slowly in cold water and quickly in hot water. It dissolves in acids.
Applications of Cerium
Cerium is used as a core in carbon electrodes, in aluminum and iron alloys, in stainless steel as a curing agent and in the manufacture of permanent magnets. Cerium oxide is part of the catalyst of catalytic converters used to purify car exhausts and also catalyzes the reduction of nitrogen oxides (NOx) to nitrogen gas. All new cars are now fitted with a catalytic converter consisting of a ceramic or metal substrate, an aluminum and oxide coating of cerium and a layer of thin metal such as platinum or rhodium, which is the active surface. Cerium sulphide can replace Cadmium in the reds used to paint industrial materials, toys, household goods and more, as Cadmium is now considered to be environmentally undesirable.
Other uses of cerium include flat-panel televisions, low-power lamps and magnetic optical digital disks.
Cerium in the environment
Cerium is the most abundant of the rare earths. Cerium comes mainly from lanthanide ores and some others.
Impact of cerium on human health
Cerium is one of the rare chemicals that can be found in home appliances such as televisions, fluorescent lamps, energy-saving lamps and glasses. All rare earths have comparable properties.
Cerium is particularly dangerous in the workplace due to the fact that it can be inhaled by air. This can cause lung embolism, especially during long-term exposure. Cerium can be a threat to the liver when it accumulates in the human body. Normally, the small amounts of cerium that can accumulate in the bones are not considered dangerous.
We do not know exactly the biological role of cerium, but it has been observed that cerium salts stimulate metabolism, lower cholesterol levels, blood pressure, appetite and the risk of blood clotting.
Environmental impact of cerium
Cerium is dumped into the environment in many different places, notably by the oil-producing industries. It can also enter the environment from discarded household equipment. Cerium gradually accumulates in soil and water, eventually leading to increased concentrations in humans, animals and soil particles.
How can one determine if one has been exposed to cerium ?
We can measure cerium levels in blood and most biological materials.
Determination of metals is done by ICP-MS (Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry, Inductively Coupled Argon Plasma Mass Spectrometry), a method that enables the simultaneous detection of many metals. Its sensitivity and accuracy are significantly better than conventional atomic absorption, with the ability to measure metals at concentrations up to 1 in 1015 (1 in 1 quadrillion, ppq)!
Laboratory test results are the most important parameter for the diagnosis and monitoring of all pathological conditions. 70%-80% of diagnostic decisions are based on laboratory tests. Correct interpretation of laboratory results allows a doctor to distinguish "healthy" from "diseased".
Laboratory test results should not be interpreted from the numerical result of a single analysis. Test results should be interpreted in relation to each individual case and family history, clinical findings and the results of other laboratory tests and information. Your personal physician should explain the importance of your test results.
At Diagnostiki Athinon we answer any questions you may have about the test you perform in our laboratory and we contact your doctor to get the best possible medical care.