Exposure, metabolism, and toxicity of rare earths and related compounds

Environ Health Perspect. 1996 Mar;104 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):85-95. doi: 10.1289/ehp.96104s185.


For the past three decades, most attention in heavy metal toxicology has been paid to cadmium, mercury, lead, chromium, nickel, vanadium, and tin because these metals widely polluted the environment. However, with the development of new materials in the last decade, the need for toxicological studies on those new materials has been increasing. A group of rare earths (RE) is a good example. Although some RE have been used for superconductors, plastic magnets, and ceramics, few toxicological data are available compared to other heavy metals described above. Because chemical properties of RE are very similar, it is plausible that their binding affinities to biomolecules, metabolism, and toxicity in the living system are also very similar. In this report, we present an overview of the metabolism and health hazards of RE and related compounds, including our recent studies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Half-Life
  • Humans
  • Kidney / drug effects
  • Lethal Dose 50
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Metals, Rare Earth / chemistry
  • Metals, Rare Earth / pharmacokinetics
  • Metals, Rare Earth / toxicity*


  • Metals, Rare Earth