Chromium poisoning and chromium toxicity are forms of heavy metal poisoning caused by exposure to chromium particles. Chromium-contaminated public water supplies were the subject of the blockbuster hit and real-life story of Erin Brockovich. However, chromium poisoning can occur due to many exposure sources. Inhalation of chromium particles, dermal contact and ingestion of chromium compounds can result in skin rashes, nerve damage, hormone disruption and other health conditions. Chromium and chromium alloys are also found in medical implants, such as metal-on-metal hip and knee implants, including the recently recalled ASR system manufactured by DePuy.
For thousands of years, chromium has been used for its strength and extreme corrosion resistance. Chromium VI is a vital component of stainless steel, automotive parts and medical implants, while odorless and tasteless chromium III is often used as a dietary supplement in trace amounts. Patients implanted with metal-on-metal implants and even metal-backed implants are at a greater risk of developing chromium poisoning and metallosis related to elevated levels of cobalt, nickel and other metals found in orthopedic implants. When metallic ions are released from medical devices, they show up in the blood serum and urine. Chromium poisoning is also responsible for many physical conditions. In most cases, symptoms begin appearing at least three months after a joint replacement operation.
Inside the body, chromium can cause acute toxicity. Once chromium ions enter the bloodstream, they are transported to the kidneys and liver where they create oxidative reactions that can damage the organs and impair their ability to function properly and purify the blood. Symptoms of chromium poisoning associated with metal-on-metal implants include elevated metal levels in the blood, urine and affected joints as well as localized lesions, pseudotumors, soft tissue nodules and necrosis. Patients may also experience short-term nerve impairment, local swelling, complete or partial joint dislocation, decreased mobility and other painful symptoms. Internal and dermal exposure to chromium and chromates often results in severe dermatitis, chrome ulcers and other skin conditions.
Chromium poisoning can compromise genetic data, cause inflammation, increase a patient's risk of developing cancer, lead to hearing loss, cause vision impairment and affect the endocrine system. Cases of chromium poisoning are also linked to reproductive issues, nerve damage and organ damage. Joint replacement candidates with metal sensitivities, renal insufficiency and suppressed immune systems are cautioned against receiving metal-on-metal joint implants. Chromium blood serum levels between 0.05 micrograms and 0.5 micrograms per milliliter are within the normal range.
Patients with elevated metal levels and chromium poisoning who have not already experienced collateral damage can often completely reverse their symptoms by undergoing revision surgery to remove the metal implant and replace it with a device that doesn't contain these compounds.
If you suspect that you suffer from high levels of chromium due to a malfunction of an implant device talk to your doctor immediately about how that situation can best be corrected from a medical standpoint and insist upon testing to determine whether or not the you have suffered collateral damage as a result of the introduction of the chromium into your blood stream and other parts of your body. Financial help may be available to those who have been injured by a defective implant. Contact us if you would like to discuss your legal rights with an attorney who has the experience to deal with injuries caused by chromium poisoning. The consultation and representation will cost you nothing unless a recovery is made on your behalf.