Are Zirconia Bioceramics and Ceramics Intended to Come in Contact with Skin Inert?

Generally speaking, ceramic materials are insensitive to corrosion, compared to most other materials. The present study questions the fact that ceramics are inert. Two major aspects are to be considered: the stability of zirconia over time, the stable tetragonal phase transforming into an unstable monoclinic form; the multitude of manufacturing methods, using various additives, sintering additives, oxides mixing, impurities, grain boundaries, and porosities which strongly influence the corrosion behavior and chemical degradation. In case of the investigated ceramics two paths were pursued: a) Dissolutions of ceramics in a mixture of HNO3 60% and HF 40% ultrapure medium. b) Release of cations from ceramics in various mediums: dental bioceramics in a 0.07 M HCl medium and a 0.1% NaF+0.1% KF medium; ceramics used in jewelry and watchmaking applications in a HCl 0.07 M medium and an artificial sweat medium. By inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectrometry/mass spectrometry (ICP-OES/MS), traces of significant chemical elements were assessed: Hf, Cr, Y, As, Pb, Al, Fe, Cu, Se, Sb, La, Ni, Co, Sb, Ta, Te, Ba, Sm, Nb, Hg, Cd, Sr, As and Se. In ceramics used in jewelry and watchmaking applications the concentrations found vary from one ceramic to another, including toxic elements such as Te, Ba, As, Pb, Sm, Hg and Cd, therefore being technical zirconia ceramics which are not intended for the medical field. For ceramics used in jewelry and watchmaking applications a screening identification test for Ni, Co, Cu and Fe with strips of type Merckoquant (Merck, Kenilworth, NJ, USA) was also performed. The obtained data prove that the zirconia ceramics in question are far from being “inert”.

Source: Materials