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topic 8552

Leaching, Titanium Pollution ... Help?


Q. Hello.

I am a 10th grade student and I am doing a research project on the metal titanium. I am looking for any form of pollution that titanium may cause. While searching the Internet, I found out about leaching of metals. I don't know many details about this (I'm only in High School) but from what I gather, leaching the molecules or atoms of metals come apart and leak into water or soil or the air. Is this correct? I just want to understand the basics of this to do my project. Any information you can give me on the titanium pollutes the environment and it's effects on flora and fauna would be very much appreciated.

Thank you.

Ian Tremblay
- Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Titanium Guide


A. Hallo Ian,

May I ask you one impertinent question, why in the HELL are you trying to evaluate Titanium's negative side?

Ti is one of the most inert metals around and hardly attacked by nearly any acids ... but doesn't love Nitric:HF.

I doubt that were you to leave some Ti in the soil that you'd get any leaching effect as it is so damned inert.

Leaching is when a less noble a less inert metal gets affected by moisture and the soil conditions... which may be acidic or alkaline. In the case of iron, it reverts to its natural state, RUST, ie.Fe203 or Fe304.

You won't, I think, get any 'atoms' getting into the airstream, you need a nasty metallurgical process to induce that. (You might think of boiling iron in some sulphuric, for example) but even then, NO ATOMS, just invisible low droplets of acid and ferric salts. But some acids can generate fumes, ie. true gases but not, I would have thought, atoms.

Ti is, as mentioned, one heck of a stable metal. However, during its processing, ie. making it, then you'd get some pollution which would be 'scrubbed' at source.

Worry not, it would not, I'm sure, affect any fauna, nor flora nor even a school boy of the 'onzieme' grade!

I don't know why I'm defending Ti when I used to fight its use for chemical equipment!


freeman newton portrait
Freeman Newton
White Rock, British Columbia, Canada

(It is our sad duty to
advise that Freeman passed away
April 21, 2012. R.I.P. old friend).


thumbs up signThanks Freeman.

My question may have sounded dumb to someone as educated as you in this field. I was also thinking to myself "Well, I've never heard of titanium pollution, and I can't find anything about it". But I had to make sure (my teacher asked that we evaluate the polluting aspects of the substances we picked) He didn't know I picked titanium, or else he would have told me it didn't pollute.

I had no idea what leaching was. We never learned about it in class. I was just looking on the internet for pollution caused by titanium and came across the words "leaching of metals" quite a lot, and a site said that that was a way that metals can pollute the environment. Guess titanium doesn't. Anyways, thanks for telling what it was and how it worked, now I'm ahead of everyone in my class.

And yeah, I noticed that in the Kroll process used to produce industry-ready titanium there is a lot of magnesium and chlorine used. I kind of thought those might pollute, seeing as how chlorine is toxic. Thanks for clearing it up for me.

By the way, it's "dixiËme", not "onziËme" (that's 11th grade)

Thanks a bunch.

Ian Tremblay
- Ottawa, Ontario, Canada


Q. So you're absolutely POSITIVE there are no pollutants caused by Titanium? Because I'm doing a project in gr.9 and I need to include the "Environmental/Health Issues", and I have been unlucky in my search. So please just confirm that it does not have anything wrong with it in the sense of Environmental or Health.

Thanks in advance.

Timothy C. [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Toronto, Ontario, Canada


A. Hi, Timothy. There is nothing--absolutely nothing--that will not "pollute" in the very loose sense of a pollutant being "a material that is out of place in a harmful way". For example, you can easily kill a plant simply by overwatering; so, are you "polluting" by watering? You can kill a saltwater fish simply by adding fresh water; so, are you "polluting" if you clean up the water that the saltwater fish is in? An animal enclosed within a limited airspace will die of oxygen deprivation; so, are we "polluting" when we do absolutely nothing?

But titanium is used in surgical implants because it doesn't seem to react with biological processes. Good luck.

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey


A. Titanium itself is fine, but it's mainly used as an alloy, especially for surgical applications, some of the materials it's alloyed with are toxic in the body (vanadium) carcinogenic (chromium in an oxidised state), allergenic (nickel, chromium). The metal nitinol is made up of nickel and titanium, so, since 25% of people are allergic to nickel, we have another problem! hope I've been helpful!

Me M. [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Ireland


Q. Well, I am in gr. 7 and I'm doing a project on natural resources of the world. My project centers on Kenyan titanium. I have to find ways to make titanium more sustainable in Kenya, and I was wondering what is creating the titanium pollution in Kenya.

Callie S. [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Nepean, Ontario, Canada

March 8, 2011

Q. Hi, my name is Alex and I am in year 8; I was given this project on titanium. Part of this project was to find out if titanium pollutes and I have been looking in books and looking on the internet for almost two weeks and have not found a thing.

I know that it does not react with the human body and about leaching with metals but I have still not found out if it pollutes or not.

If anyone could please help me that would be very much appreciated.

Alex C. [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
student - Dingwood North, Victoria, Australia

March 8, 2011

A. Hi, Alex.

The problem with your question is probably that at this point in your education you have only a very vague idea of what you mean by "pollute". It's probably just a buzzword with no real, exact, concrete meaning -- just a loose bunch of negative, nasty connotations.

But does titanium vaporize into the air and cause smog and gray skies like gasoline does? No. Does it cause global warming? No. Does it dissolve into the water and cause fish kills like oil & petroleum products can? No. Do fish absorb it so they are unsafe to eat, as is the case with mercury? Probably not. Does it poison the land so that vegetables can't grow or are unfit to eat? Probably not. But can the mining, refining, and manufacture of titanium items cause any problems? Of course it can. Everything has consequences.

So, in addition to the things I mentioned, you have to figure out exactly what "pollute" means to you. In fact, getting you to think a little more deeply about what you actually mean by the word 'pollute' than you did yesterday is probably the real point of the project :-)

Good luck with it.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

July 11, 2011

A. Are you sure that you are asking the right question? Mining of titanium feedstocks from mineral sands, for example, can create environmental issues. Additionally, Heavy Metals (HM) contain trace elements of radioactive materials that are concentrated in monazite that is extracted. This material is fed back to the tailing ponds and "diluted". It does add, I believe, a new dimension to the question of "pollution" and environmental impact over and above the traditional effects caused by mining. Further, you also need to question where the mining is taking place ... the standards in the developed world are a lot more stringent than the emerging markets.

Alex Higginson
- Franklin, Tennessee, USA

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