Research on tungsten has been conducted by various international organisations. These studies indicate that tungsten has a low potential to cause harm to animals and humans at environmentally relevant concentrations. This means that tungsten is a relatively benign metal at the concentrations that humans, animals, and plants may encounter in natural and urban environments. As with all metals, appropriate care must be exercised when using tungsten and tungsten substances. Since tungsten products are very hard and abrasion resistant, they can be used safely by consumers since there is very limited potential for tungsten exposure.
Pollution during hardmetal production is collected by filter devices and afterwards recycled. All other tungsten losses can be kept to a minimum and this situation will further improve in the future due to economic forces.
Pollution through by-products generated during tungsten production, such as ammonia, sodium sulphate, etc, will decline. They will be recycled, not only for economic reasons but also due to more rigid governmental regulations (both national and international) all over the world. Gangue materials and tailings dumped in a proper way do not disturb nature.
Tungsten today helps in several ways to improve the environment:
All those applications, which are today mainly used in developed countries, will spread worldwide. For more information on Tungsten for a Cleaner Environment, see ITIA Newsletters - June 2004 and December 2004.
In 2007, legislation known as REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals) entered into force in the EU. Its effect was far-reaching because the onus had hitherto been on the regulatory authorities to prove that a product was hazardous; now industry had to prove that a product was safe. To assist its members and the industry as a whole, ITIA set up the Tungsten Consortium to compile the necessary registration dossiers by the various deadlines (set according to tonnage volumes).
ITIA members will find further information, including the literature survey, under the ITIA Members' Area.