Antimony (Sb) is a metalloid chemical element found naturally in minerals at low concentrations. Antimony is used in a number of industries, including the production of batteries and other metal alloys. Antimony can also be used as a catalyst in the production of polyesters. Antimony trioxide is also used in combination with chlorinated- and brominated flame retardants to increase fire resistance.

Testing by HealthyStuff has found lower levels of antimony (160-700 ppm range) that are consistent with polyester applications, as well as higher levels (2,000-5,000 ppm range) that may be consistent with flame retardant applications. In either case, it is possible that antimony is released from the plastic material (ATSDR 1995).

 

Health Effects

Depending on the form and levels of exposure:

  • Antimony trioxide is classified as a carcinogen in the state of California and has been listed as a possible human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the European Union.

  • In long-term studies, animals that breathed very low levels of antimony had eye irritation, hair loss, lung damage, and heart problems (ATSDR 1995).

  • Higher levels of antimony have been shown to cause fertility problems and lung cancer in animals (ATSDR 1995).

  • A recent report indicates that antimony may weakly mimic naturally-occurring estrogen. The human health implications of this discovery are unknown (Choe 2003)

 

Sources: 

ATSDR. ToxFAQs™ for Antimony. Toxic Substances Portal (1995). 

Choe, S. Y. et al. Evaluation of estrogenicity of major heavy metals. Science of the Total Environment 312, 15–21 (2003).

Published on September 27, 2016

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