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Identifying and Mitigating Exposure Risks to Barium and Barium Compounds

Clark Seif Clark provides industrial hygiene testing, consulting and training services to protect workers and the public from occupational and environmental hazards.

Chatsworth, CA – WEBWIRE

There are a myriad of potential health effects due to exposure to elevated levels of barium or barium compounds.

Barium is described by the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR) as a silvery-white metal which exists in nature only in ores containing mixtures of elements. It combines with other chemical elements, such as sulfur or carbon and oxygen, to form barium compounds. Barium compounds are used by the oil and gas industries to make drilling muds. These compounds are also used to make paint, bricks, ceramics, glass and rubber. 

Potential routes of barium exposure include:

  • Inhalation – Generally limited to occupational exposure
  • Oral – Primary route of exposure for the general population (some foods, such as Brazil nuts, seaweed, fish and certain plants, may contain high amounts of barium).
  • Dermal – Minor route of exposure

Ways people could be exposed to barium listed by ATSDR include:

  • Ingesting small amounts present in food and water or breathing air containing very low levels of barium
  • Living in areas with unusually high natural levels of barium in the drinking water
  • Working in a job that involves barium production or use
  • Living or working near waste sites where barium has been disposed of

“There are a myriad of potential health effects due to exposure to elevated levels of barium or barium compounds,” said Zahid Iqbal, MPH, CIH and Technical Director at Clark Seif Clark (CSC). “For example, inhaling barium can irritate the nose, throat and lungs, and direct contact can irritate and burn the skin or eyes. Barium may damage the kidneys and exposure to high levels may result in barium poisoning, which can have serious consequences. To safeguard workers and the public, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set a limit for barium in drinking water. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) for barium compounds and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has set Recommended Exposure Limits (RELs).”
To help companies comply with these exposure limits, the industrial hygiene professionals at CSC offer testing, monitoring, consulting and training services to eliminate or mitigate exposure risks to barium, barium compounds and other potential hazards. CSC has even sponsored an educational video about barium that can be seen at:
To learn more about this or other occupational, air quality, environmental, health and safety services, please visit, email or call (800) 807-1118. 
About Clark Seif Clark
CSC was established in 1989 to help clients in both public and private sectors address indoor air quality, occupational, environmental, and health and safety (EH&S) issues. CSC is a leading provider of these services with multiple offices along the western seaboard and southwest. The company believes in science-based protocols and has a strong background in engineering, making them the preferred environmental consultants to industrial clients, healthcare facilities, architects, schools, builders, contractors, developers and real estate professionals.

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 Industrial Hygiene
 Occupational Health
 Occupational Safety

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