May 28, 2020

New Profile for Molybdenum Describes Toxicological, Health Effects Information

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has published a final toxicological profile for molybdenum, a metal used in the production of cast iron and stainless steel, biofuels, solar panels, catalysts, lubricants, and pigments. According to ATSDR, molybdenum is commonly found in the environment in the form of molybdenum trioxide or molybdenum salts. People are often exposed to low levels of molybdenum every day, mostly in food. The agency notes that a small amount of molybdenum is needed by the human body and that these low-level exposures do not cause harm. Higher levels of the metal may be found in the air near mining and milling operations or other industries that process or release it. ATSDR stresses that exposure to excess levels of molybdenum can cause harmful effects. For example, studies of workers who were exposed to high levels of the metal indicate that breathing molybdenum dust can cause lung problems. The toxicological profile also describes health effects such as decreases in body weight, kidney damage, decreases in sperm count, and anemia following oral exposure to molybdenum.

ATSDR’s “Tox Profiles” characterize the toxicological and adverse health effects information for hazardous substances. Each peer-reviewed profile identifies and reviews the key literature that describes a substance's toxicological properties. Information on the potential for human exposure; chemical and physical properties; regulations and guidelines; and production, import, use, and disposal can also be found in ATSDR’s toxicological profiles. A full list of toxic substances with published profiles is available on the agency’s website.