Cobalt-Chromium Toxicity Resource Center

What is cobalt toxicity?

What Is Cobalt Toxicity?

Cobalt toxicity is a condition resulting from excessive levels of cobalt in the body. In small traces, Cobalt is an essential element for a person’s health. However, excessive levels are poisonous and cause significant health problems, or even death.

Over the past ten years, metal-on-metal hip implants, largely composed of the element cobalt, are a common alternative in hip replacement surgery. Studies now find the wear from these implants release excessive amounts of cobalt into the bloodstream producing adverse effects to the patient’s health. A malfunctioning hip replacement creates numerous, and serious, long term health problems.

Side effects from cobalt toxicity include:

  • vision or hearing loss
  • cardiomyopathy (weakening of the heart muscle)
  • cognitive impairment
  • hypothyroidism
  • peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage)
  • rashes
  • shortness of breath

Check with your doctor to find if your hip replacement is produced from metal or plastic. Patients with metal on metal hip implants should have a blood test to reveal if there are excessive cobalt levels in your body. Here are additional questions to ask your doctor. Download this list and take it with you to your next doctor’s appointment.

If your hip replacement implant was recalled, do not wait for the symptoms before taking legal action. Our hip recall lawyers have years of experience successfully litigating against pharmaceutical companies on behalf of people injured by defective medical devices. Read our advice for anyone who received the hip implant recall letter, or call 888-817-2527 to speak with one of our expert medical device recall lawyers for a free and confidential case evaluation.


The chemical element cobalt is known on the periodic table of elements by the symbol Co and atomic number 27. The main source of the element is as a byproduct of copper and nickel mining, and is retrieved predominately from the copper belt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia.

Cobalt is an essential trace element for all animals in minute amounts. The median lethal dose (LD50) for soluble cobalt salts has been estimated to be between 150 and 500 mg/kg.

In the sixties, Canadian beer manufacturers added cobalt compounds to stabilize beer foam, which led to cardiomyopathy in many beer drinkers.

Knowledge concerning cobalt toxicity is based primarily on the inhalation or ingestion routes of exposure from occupational environments. People who inhale or ingest cobalt-containing minerals develop respiratory problems such as occupational asthma and pulmonary fibrosis. These side effects provide an insight on the consequences of an immunological response from metal on metal prostheses in the body. Increased levels of cobalt, albeit from inhalation, ingestion, or implantation, trigger an inflammatory process secondary to an immune response.


The chemical element of chromium is known on the periodic table of elements by the symbol Cr and atomic number 24. It was discovered in 1797 and regarded with great interest because of its hardness and high resistance to corrosion.

In large amounts and different forms, chromium can be toxic and carcinogenic. Abandoned chromium production sites often require environmental cleanup. Many examples of chromium causing cancer have been seen in the media; however, this has been specific to “hexavalent chromium” (Chromium (VI))

“Trivalent chromium” (Chromium (III)) is not considered carcinogenic in the same way as hexavalent chromium; however, several in vitro studies have indicated that high cellular levels of trivalent chromium can lead to DNA damage.

Additional problems associated with excessive chromium intake include liver and kidney damage, dermatitis, and irregular heartbeat.

Getting the help you deserve

Do you have an advocate looking out for your best interest?  At Kershaw, Cook & Talley we represent hundreds of hip replacement patients who, for decades, continue to rely on our knowledge and expertise in fighting and winning cases against manufacturers that put defective medical devices on the market. All it takes is 3 simple steps! Start by sharing your story with us through our free evaluation form on this page or give us a call, toll free, at 888-817-2527 for a confidential case review.

At Kershaw, Cook & Talley, we look forward to serving you and your family.

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