The increased use of metals or their compounds in our day-to-day lives has made them poisonous. Some of these metals have no biological role and categorized as toxic metals. Examples include cadmium, lead, mercury, arsenic, chromium, aluminum, and many more. Radioactive isotopes of lead, cadmium, mercury and chromium have been proven to be carcinogenic. Toxic metals are the most commonly prevalent occupational hazard. The severity of the metal poisoning varies from metal to metal. The process of detoxification is difficult especially if metal or its compound is not water soluble. They can accumulate in the living bodies for long duration and can easily be the part of food chain.
Aluminum is the most abundant metal on the earth. The compounds of aluminum are used commonly in antiperspirants, cleaning agents, baking powder and water purification. Many of cooking and baking utensils are made up of aluminum. Aluminum is connected to breast cancer, Alzheimer’s disease. It accumulates in bones and decreases the calcium absorption. High doses of aluminum can cause growth retardation. The compounds in antiperspirants and food are considered as the potential sources of aluminum poisoning.
Cases of lead poisoning are the most heard stories because of recent litigation and recalls of products containing lead. Lead had been used in paints and fuel as an antiknocking agent for many years. The exposure to lead and its compounds can occur through inhalation, ingestion and skin contact. The metal affects the central nervous system and causes learning disabilities and schizophrenia among kids. It can contaminate the fetus if the mother has been exposed to it for a prolonged period of time.
Similar to lead, cadmium exposure can occur through air, soil and water. Both of these metals are commonly used in batteries. Tobacco smoking is also a significant source of cadmium. The metal can affect the respiratory bones, tract, kidney and liver. Mercury is used in fluorescent light bulbs, medical equipments and imported cosmetics. It is also found in seafood and has been seen the most common cause of mercury poisoning. The exposure to this metal can cause sensory impairment, lack of coordination. Children can show severe symptoms such as discoloration of body, loss of hair, teeth and nails, dysfunction of kidney and brain. To avoid the mercury poisoning, pregnant woman are recommended to avoid seafood.
Some essential metals such as iron, cobalt, copper, manganese, molybdenum and zinc are desired for the proper functioning of human body, but excess of these metals can also be harmful. Even though U.S. government is putting in place regulations to control the toxicity of metals, this is still not being adequately enforced, especially with imported goods.
The term for the accumulation of toxins, including all toxic chemicals, not just metals, is ‘body burden‘. There are many studies that have shown how toxic chemicals accumulated in the body of adults and babies. Other studies focus solely on different types of toxins, such as pesticides. This is why a periodic detoxification program is important – it is not just the planet that is being affected, our bodies are as well!