Fact Sheet: Antimony

Brief Overview:
Category: Metals
Acceptable Level: 0.006 mg/L MCL, Primary Drinking Water Standard
Source: Natural occurring, Industry
Effect: Short and Long-term Health Effects
Follow up: Test for Antimony and other metals
Treatment: Coagulation/Filtration, reverse osmosis

Source: Antimony is a metal found in natural deposits as ores containing other elements. The most
widely used antimony compound is antimony trioxide, used as a flame retardant. It is also found in batteries,
pigments, and ceramics/glass.
In 1984, 64.5 million lbs. antimony ore was mined and refined. Production of the most commonly used
antimony compound, the trioxide, increased during the 1980s to about 31 million lbs, reported in 1985.
Industrial dust, auto exhaust and home heating oil are the main sources in urban air.
From 1987 to 1993, according to the Toxics Release Inventory antimony and antimony compound releases to
land and water totaled over 12 million lbs. These releases were primarily from copper and lead smelting and
refining industries. The largest releases occurred in Arizona and Montana. The greatest releases to water
occurred in Washington and Louisiana.
What happens to Antimony when it is released to the environment? Little is known about antimonys fate
once released to soil. Some studies indicate that antimony is highly mobile in soils, while others conclude that
it strongly adsorbs to soil. In water, it usually adheres to sediments. Most antimony compounds show little or
no tendency to accumulate in aquatic life.
Effect: Short-term: EPA has found antimony to potentially cause the following health effects when people
are exposed to it at levels above the MCL for relatively short periods of time: nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Long-term: Antimony has the potential to cause the following effects from a lifetime exposure at levels above
the MCL: decreased longevity, altered blood levels of glucose and cholesterol. There is inadequate evidence
to state whether or not antimony has the potential to cause cancer from lifetime exposures in drinking water.
Treatment: Coagulation/Filtration, Reverse Osmosis
Follow up: Treat and re-test for metals.
Following installation of this system, the consumer should have the treated water tested for antimony to verify antimony reduction is being achieved and the
system is functioning properly.
For more information visit the USEPA web site: