This blood test monitors for industrial exposure to cobalt, a heavy metal. Cobalt is employed industrially in certain grades of steel and in tungsten carbide tools, and cobalt compounds are used as pigments in paints. In addition, cobalt is an essential element in humans that is supplied through dietary intake. The average intake of dietary cobalt is 280 μg/day.
A normal blood test is recommended.
No fasting is required for this test.
This test should not be ordered to assess vitamin B12 activity because this test uses mass spectrometry detection, the radioactive form of cobalt, (60)Co, is not quantified.
Specimen collection procedures for cobalt require special specimen collection tubes, rigorous attention to ultraclean specimen collection and handling procedures, and analysis in an ultraclean facility. Unless all of these precautions are taken, elevated serum cobalt results may be an incidental and misleading finding.
Concentrations greater than or equal to 1.0 ng/mL indicate possible environmental or occupational exposure. Concentrations greater than 5 ng/mL suggest major exposure and likely toxicity.