Pure Germanium is a tough, shiny, gray-white, brittle metal. It has a diamond-like crystalline structure and similar chemical and physical properties to silicon. Germanium is stable in air and water and is not affected by alkali and acids except nitric acid.
Applications of germanium
Germanium is an important semiconductor and is mainly used in transistors and integrated circuits, with the addition of small amounts of arsenic, gallium or other metals. Germanium forms many compounds. Germanium oxide is added to glass to increase the refractive index used in wide-angle lenses and infrared devices. There are numerous alloys containing germanium. High-purity germanium detectors can accurately identify possible sources of radiation.
Germanium in the environment
Germanium is less abundant than tin or lead and is also less easily accessible. Minerals with germanium are rare. Germanium is dispersed in ores of other metals such as zinc and what is required for manufacturing purposes is recovered as a by-product from zinc mines.
Impact of germanium on human health
Estimated daily intake is about 1 mg and there are claims that germanium may be beneficial to health, although this has not yet been scientifically proven. High intake of germanium is thought to improve immune function, improve oxygen supply to the body, make a person feel more alive and destroy harmful free oxygen radicals.
Germanium hydride and tetrahydride are extremely flammable and explosive even when mixed with air. These substances irritate the eyes, skin and respiratory system. Their inhalation causes stomach cramps, burning sensation, cough, redness and skin pain, redness and pain in the eyes and damage to blood cells. Prolonged exposure can lead to death.
How can one determine if one has been exposed to germanium?
We can measure germanium 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.