Tungsten carbide – Exposure

It is known from observational studies on hard metal workers that tungsten carbide (WC) itself is a non-toxic material [1,2].

Tungsten carbide (WC) is a non-naturally occurring compound, that is technically produced from tungsten ores.

Since many years, micro-scaled tungsten carbide (WC) particles are used in the hard metal industry, while the production and application of nanoparticles has only been introduced recently. Accordingly, the majority of available toxicity data stem from the research on micro-sized particles. Because tools made of nanoparticles are much harder compared to tools made of micro-sized particles, the application of nanoparticles in hard metal industry are likely to increase.

Occupational exposure is the main exposure path for humans, particulary for workers in the hard metal industry. Workers are exposed to tungsten carbide (WC) dusts when the powders are handled or tools are polished, and particles may be inhaled or absorbed via the skin. To minimise exposure, suitable protective clothes like gloves and masks should be worn.


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