Zirconium is a very hard, malleable, ductile, shiny silver-gray metal. Its chemical and physical properties are similar to those of Titanium. Zirconium is extremely resistant to heat and corrosion. Zirconium is lighter than steel while its hardness is similar to that of Copper. Zirconium does not dissolve in acids and alkalis.
Zirconium is used in alloys for nuclear applications, as it does not readily absorb neutrons. It is also used in catalytic converters, capsules, and firebricks. The main end-uses of Zirconium oxide are the manufacture of refractory materials, ceramics, foundries, and natural gemstones. The metal also has many other uses, including in photo flash, in surgical instruments, in glass for televisions, in electronic vacuum tubes, and as a curing agent in alloys, mainly in iron and steel and even in the paper and packaging industries.
Zirconium compounds have many biomedical applications, including dental implants, in artificial knee and hip joints, and other prosthetic and restorative devices. Zirconium binds urea, a property that has been widely used in dialysis machines.
Impact of Zirconium on human health
Although Zirconium has no known biological role, the human body contains 250 mg of Zirconium and the daily intake is approximately 4 mg (3.5 mg from food and 0.5 mg from water), depending on dietary habits. Most Zirconium passes through the intestine without being absorbed while what is absorbed tends to mostly accumulate in the bones relative to other tissues. Zirconium and its salts generally have low systemic toxicity.
While aquatic plants have a rapid uptake of soluble Zirconium compounds, terrestrial plants show very little tendency to absorb them.
How can one determine if one has been exposed to Zirconium?
We can measure zirconium levels in the blood and most biological materials.
Determination of metals is done by ICP-MS (Inductively Coupled 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. The 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.