Zinc at Memorial Academy

This page last reviewed October 21 2010


Background

Zinc is a bluish-white lustrous metal. It is normally covered with a white coating on exposure to the atmosphere. Zinc dust is flammable when exposed to heat and burns with a bluish-green flame. Zinc also exists in many compounds. Zinc has a role in normal human growth, taste, and sperm development, but exposure to high levels of zinc (through inhalation, ingestion, and dermal contact) can cause adverse health effects. Acute inhalation of high levels of zinc such as from welding and smelting of metallic zinc has resulted in metal fume fever, with symptoms of headache, chills, fever, and muscle aches. Damage to the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract and ulceration of the skin can result from exposure to some zinc compounds. Zinc and its compounds have not been identified as cancer-causing compounds.

Zinc is used for alloys, electroplating, metal spraying, electrical fuses, batteries, rubber, paint, glue and matches. Zinc is registered as a fungicide, herbicide, and rodenticide. The primary stationary sources of zinc in California are electric services, petroleum refining, crude petroleum and natural gas extraction, manufacturing of fabricated rubber products, manufacturing of fabricated metal heating and plumbing products, and manufacturing of inorganic chemicals. Indoor sources include infiltration of outdoor air, smoking, cooking, and other indoor sources. The average indoor concentration of zinc is normally slightly higher than the outdoor level. Zinc occurs naturally in the earth's crust.

Ambient Monitoring Results

Ambient levels of zinc are routinely monitored at approximately twenty sites in the California air toxics monitoring network. The statewide average concentration of zinc during 1998-2000 was 55 ng/m3 (ng: 10-9 gram), based on values ranging from 1 ng/m3 to 4800 ng/m3. Relative to the statewide average, the San Diego region was 34% lower for the same time period.

The ambient monitoring results at Memorial Academy are provided here:

  • A graph comparing the monthly summaries of zinc at Memorial Academy with historical statewide and regional levels
  • A table of summary statistics
  • Raw data in Excel format

Cancer Risk

Zinc has not been identified as a carcinogen.


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