Preferred Sample Type

Cobalt (whole blood)

Suitable Specimen Types

  • EDTA Whole Blood
5 mL blood

Sample Processing in Laboratory

Place in Trace Element rack in Send Away Fridge.

Sample Preparation

None required

Turnaround Time

3 working days

Sample Stability

No special requirements

Cobalt (whole blood)

General Information

Cobalt is found in metal alloys that are very hard, have high melting points and are resistant to oxidation. Occupational exposure occurs during production and machining of these metal alloys and has led to interstitial lung disease. Cardiomyopathy and renal failure are symptomatic of acute cobalt exposure. However, the most effective means of identifying individuals with excessive cobalt exposure is through quantification of Urinary Cobalt.

Assessment of whole blood cobalt is of limited use. The only known essential role is as component of Vitamin B12. Investigation of cobalt deficiency per se is, therefore, inappropriate and would, in any event, be technically extremely difficult. Analysis of blood cobalt is of use with respect to individuals with metallic prosthetic joints. Cobalt values can be markedly raised in some such patients, but the significance of this is unclear, apart from, perhaps, indicating degree of joint degradation.

Patient Preparation

Cobalt clears from body within 3 days of exposure ceasing. Check patient still exposed at time of collection. Blood should not be taken using a steel needle.

Do not use Lithium Heparin.


None Given

Reference Range

Normal values: <10 nmol/L

MHRA Threshold (7ppb) for patients with MoM hip joints: 120 nmol/L


  • EQA Scheme?: Yes
  • EQA Status: TEQAS

The laboratories at Heartlands Hospital, Good Hope Hospital and Solihull Hospital form part of the services provided by University Hospitals Birmingham and are UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service) accredited to the ISO 15189:2012 standard. For a list of accredited tests and other information please visit the UKAS website using the following link:

  • Heartlands, Good Hope and Solihull Hospital pathology laboratories are a UKAS accredited medical laboratory No.8217
  • United Kingdom Health Security Agency laboratory is a UKAS accredited medical laboratory No.8213

Tests not appearing on the UKAS Schedule of Accreditation currently remain outside of our scope of accreditation. However, these tests have been validated to the same high standard as accredited tests and are performed by the same trained and competent staff.

For further test information, please visit the test database:

Protection of personal information - Laboratory Medicine comply with the Trust Data Protection policy and have procedures in place to allow the Directorate and its employees to comply with the Data Protection act  1998 and associated best practice and guidance.

For further information contact Louise Fallon, Quality Manager, 0121 424 1235