Tantalum is a lustrous, silver, soft metal. It is resistant to chemical attack at temperatures below 150oC.
Tantalum is used in four areas: in high temperature applications such as aircraft engines, in electrical devices such as capacitors, in surgical grafts and in the treatment of corrosive chemicals. It is rarely used in alloys because it tends to make metals brittle. Tantalum is resistant to corrosion and is almost impermeable to chemical attacks and is therefore used in the chemical industry.
Tantalum in the environment
As tantalum oxide is very insoluble, there is hardly any tantalum in natural waters. Its ground level is in the range of 0.1 to 3 ppm. Only very small amounts of tantalum are absorbed by plants: the amount of tantalum in vegetation rarely exceeds 5 ppb (parts per billion).
Impact of tantalum on human health
Tantalum can be harmful if inhaled, ingested or absorbed by the skin. It causes eye and skin irritation and is irritating to mucous membranes and the upper respiratory tract.
On contact with tissues, tantalum is inert. Tantalum is extremely biocompatible and used in various implants.
How can one determine if one has been exposed to tantalum?
We can measure tantalum 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.