Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1984;10(4):245-251    pdf


Lung retention of antimony and arsenic in hamsters after the intratracheal instillation of industrial dust.

by Leffler P, Gerhardsson L, Brune D, Nordberg GF

Airborne factory dust (with a volume median diameter of 5.0 micron and a geometric standard deviation of 2.1 micron) from a Swedish copper smeltery contained antimony (Sb) (1.6 weight %) and arsenic (As) (19 weight %). The dust was neutron activated and intratracheally instilled in hamsters. In vivo measurements of lung clearance were undertaken of the radionuclides 76As, 122Sb, and 124Sb. Comparison was made with pure substances of antimony trioxide (Sb2O3) and arsenic trioxide (As2O3). Two phases were recognized in the clearance curves. The approximate half-time for the initial phase was 13 h for As2O3, 20 h for arsenic dust, about 40 h for Sb2O3, and about 30 h for antimony dust. The second phase had an approximate half-time of 20-40 d for Sb2O3 and antimony dust. Because of the short physical half-life of 76As, the second phase of the lung clearance was not possible to follow for AS2O3 and arsenic dust. The observed differences in clearance were primarily related to the solubility of the dust particles in saline, while particle size seemed to be less important in this instillation experiment. The low solubility of antimony in factory dust combined with a long biological half-time may be of importance in explaining the observed lung accumulation of antimony in exposed workers. The greater solubility and shorter biological half-time restricted the lung retention of arsenic.