Heavy Metal Toxins
in our Environment - and in our Bodies
Why worry about Heavy Metals?
Heavy Metal Toxins in our environment have increased dramatically over the past decades. Our ever expanding industry with
its production is a logical outcome for that.
These chemical ones released into the surroundings, do not decay naturally. Such toxins are called Persistent Organic Pollutants.
They persist in the environment for years or even decades and do bio-accumulate in all living organisms - like the human body.
Throughout life life we are constantly exposed to these hazardous chemicals. No one can really escape from it. Virtually everybody
has some toxic metal deposits in the body. They tend to build up slowly over the years in the tissues, brain, organs and bones so an
unhealthy level begins and when the body can not cope with it any more discomfort begins to be felt.
Luckily there is a growing awareness that these substances are not good for us and are destroying our health. In the last few decades
there has been made an effort to reduce the production of it. Many countries for instance have banned lead for use in petrol or paint.
Even so, these toxic metals are still widely present and used in the fabrication buisiness. As I mentioned earlier, they are not
bio-degradable i.e. persisting in the environment for a long time. To give you an example, the biological half-life of Cadmium in the human
body is between 10-35 years. That is the time it takes until half of the substance is eliminated naturally under normal circumstances.
Types of Heavy Metals, their sources and how they affect us?
The following heavy metal toxins are of particular concern to
humans (and animals as well). All of them are highly poisonous
substances and known for their negative impact on our health.
In large amounts they are manufactured as ingredients for various
consumer products or released as by-products. Industrial emissions and car exhaust fumes are common sources.
Mercury occurs naturally on the earth. In its natural elemental form it is not hazardous.
The industrial process turns it into a highly toxic substance. Vaporized Mercury emission
pollutes the air, water and soil which further contaminates our food. Deposits in the human
brain are said to have a half-life of around 25 year.
Mercury is an endocrine disrupting compound, which can cause imbalances in the hormonal system.
It is also a neurotoxin damaging the brain and nervous system. Related symptoms are fatigue,
depression, allergies, headache, hair loss, infertility, intestinal problems, sleeping
disorders and mental problems. Autism and Multiple Sclerosis diseases are strongly linked to it.
Mercury is used in manufacture of pesticides, electric devices, plastics, fluorescent
light bulbs, contact lens fluid, thermometer, ink, tobacco, cosmetics, as a
preservative (thiomersal) in a number of vaccines and as a compound in dental
fillings known as Amalgam.
Amalgam Toxicity is no longer denied and the number
of Dentists who have turned away from using it has grown substantialy.
Mercury is also present in various fish that are consumed, particularly the large ones.
Largely used in Industry, it is a leading environmental pollutant. According to the
WHO (World Health Organisation) over half of the People in western countries are exposed to it above the
tolerated level. In many areas Cadmium is present in all 3 elements, air, soil and water.
Consequently, we absorb it not only through breathing, but also with eating and drinking. Our food
is heavily stained with this toxin beside many other chemicals. Particularly grains, potatoes, mushrooms,
oily seeds (flax, sunflower), rice and seafood tend to accumulate it a lot. Commercially grown vegetables
and grains are often “fed” with phosphate fertilizers which usually contain high amounts of Cadmium. This makes it even worse.
Other major sources are coffee, drinking water, cigarette smoke, paints and chalk pastels, plastics, batteries, mobile phones and electroplating.
Long-term exposure could lead to high blood pressure, heart diseases, anemia, osteoporosis, kidney stones, liver problems, reproductive
disorders, hair loss, hyperactivity and mental problems. Cadmium inhibits the metabolism of minerals like zinc and iron in the body which
may cause mineral deficiency. It is also classified as a carcinogen increasing the risk of cancer especially lung, prostate and breast cancer.
Well known as a highly toxic substance, even in small amounts. Western countries have drastically reduced its use, but not completely
banned. Food cans, pesticides, inks, old paints in houses, tap water, cosmetics and wine may contain lead.
The body tends to accumulate it in the bones, teeth and in the brain. Lead is a potential neurotoxin (like Cadmium, Mercury and Aluminium)
causing neurological and mental disorders. Children seem to be more vulnerable to absorb it and autism, mental retardation, hyperactivity are
linked to lead poisoning.
Associated health problems in adults are depression, head ache, fatigue, heart diseases, compromising of the immune system, joint pain,
insomnia and high blood pressure.
Arsenic exists naturally on the earth's surface and is mined and refined for further use in pesticides, fertilizers, animal growth-promoters,
wood preservatives (timber), electric devices. Arsenic leaching into groundwater from natural, industrial and agricultural sources is widespread
and the biggest problem for us.
Arsenic is very similar to Cadmium, a suspected carcinogen and can cause disorders in nervous, endocrine and reproductive system.
It is less toxic then the above metals, but it should be avoided as much as possible too. Vaccines and drugs such as antacid or bolus contain
aluminium and many personal care products like deodorants and toothpaste. It is also widely used in the food processing: soft cheese, white flour,
backing powder and table salt.
On top of that is an other issue, Aluminium can leach into foods when stored or cooked in aluminium pots, cans or other containers. This is
particularly the case with acidic food like tomatoes.
This seemingly harmless metal accumulated in the body may cause damage to the liver and kidney, neurological problems, worsen arthritis,
and increase the risk of alzheimer's disease.
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For further information see also:
How to detox heavy metals from your body