Ingestion of Rust

Most recent answer: 06/22/2008

what are the effects if rust is injested into the human body? For example cooking with a pair of tongs(only two weeks old)that shows rust on the outside?
- dylan hawn (age 29)
san diego,ca usa
As long as the tongs are clean a bit of rust will not harm you.  Rust is really iron oxide, a rather benign substance in small quantities.  You probably shouldn't eat a pound of it though.


(published on 06/22/2008)

Follow-Up #1: Is rust harmful?

I use water from a metallic tank to cook, bath and do other household chores. Now i noticed there is alot of rust in the tank that won't come off after washing it severally. This means i have ingested alot of rust and i am worried. Please tell me, what are the harmful effects of rust to the human body?
- Oghenero (age 30yrs)

I haven't heard of any harmful effects of rust, assuming it's just oxidized iron. It's true that sometimes too much iron in a person's diet can be harmful, but is there any reason to think that's happened to you?  Here's a link describing what the Institute of Medicine thinks about iron in the diet:
 Of course, there could be a problem if the metallic container had some contamination with heavy metals, but just plain rust should be ok, I think.

Mike W.

(published on 09/14/2011)

Follow-Up #2: battery toxins?

Hi I replaced new batteries in my sons toy. And the batteries were old and rusted, I didn't think about it but I put my fingers in my mouth and felt a scratchy feeling in my throat. I'm currently breastfeeding, is it going to hurt me or my son?
- Kayla (age 25)
Peoria, Illinois, US

We don't know exactly what batteries you had, but most batteries in toys these days are alkaline cells. () These don't have any of the really nasty components (like lead or cadmium) that could lead to big problems with some batteries. Very likely the scratchy feeling came from potassium hydroxide. If that's right, neither you nor your son will have any further problems from this.

Mike W. 

(published on 10/22/2015)