Barium: biological information
Barium has no biological role. The British Pharmaceutical Codex from 1907 indicates that barium chloride ["barii chloridum", BaCl2.2H2O] has a stimulant action on the heart and other muscles. It was said that it "raises blood pressure by constricting the vessels and tends to empty the intestines, bladder, and gall bladder". Its poisonous nature was also pointed out. Barium sulphide (BaS) was used as a depilatory agent (removes hair). Barium sulphate (BaSO4) is insoluble and used for body imaging (barium meal).
Levels in humans
- Human abundance by weight: 300 ppb by weight
- Human abundance by atoms: 14 atoms relative to C = 1000000
How much barium is in your body? Find out here.
You can use this form to calculate how much barium your body contains. Enter your weight in either kilograms or pounds and click the "Calculate" button. You must enter a number, not text! Elements for which there are no data will always give a value of zero for the weight, no matter what you put in the weight box.
Hazards and Risks
Hazards and risks associated with barium:
Barium compounds are encountered rarely by most people. All barium compounds should be regarded as highly toxic although initial evidence would appear to suggest the danger is limited. Barium salts may damage the liver. The metal dust presents a fire and explosion hazard.
- J.E. Huheey, E.A. Keiter, and R.L. Keiter in Inorganic Chemistry : Principles of Structure and Reactivity, 4th edition, HarperCollins, New York, USA, 1993.
- S. Budavari (Ed.) in The Merck Index, 11th ed., Merck, USA, 1989.
- N.N. Greenwood and A. Earnshaw in Chemistry of the Elements, 2nd edition, Butterworth, UK, 1997.