National Research Council Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Cobalt

Warning Information found on this page has been archived and is for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. Please visit NRC's new site for the most recent information.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived on the Web is for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It has not been altered or updated after the date of archiving. Web pages that are archived on the Web are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats by contacting us.


27
Co
58.93320
Cobalt

Cobalt

Cobalt is a hard, silvery-blue ferromagnetic metal. Widely distributed on Earth, this element is also found abundantly in meteorites. Many of cobalt's salts are employed in the production of glass, porcelain, pottery, and tiles due to their beautiful, deep blue colour. Other compounds of cobalt are used as paint pigments.

Iron and nickel alloys of cobalt have strong magnetic properties. As a result, industrial manufacturers of many jet and gas turbine engines use these alloys.

A small amount of cobalt salts is also essential to human and animal health. This element is a constituent of the nutrient cobalamin – also known as vitamin B12 – that is essential for the prevention of pernicious anaemia. A deficiency of this nutrient can cause fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, and even neurological changes such as numbness and tingling of the hands and feet.

The artificial radioisotope, cobalt-60, was first used to treat cancer in 1951. At the time, the National Research Council Canada (NRC) supplied the necessary field measurements for its use. The new therapy revolutionized treatment for cancer located deep in the body, where previous radiation therapies had proven ineffective. More than seven million people have benefited from cobalt-60 therapy worldwide. Today, Canada produces about 85 per cent of the world's supply of cobalt-60, and the NRC Institute for National Measurement Standards maintains the radiation standards in Canada.