Effects of Heavy Metals on Human Health


There are 23 heavy metals that are of concern to the health of humans: antimony, arsenic, bismuth, cadmium, cerium, chromium, cobalt, copper, gallium, gold, iron, lead, manganese, mercury, nickel, platinum, silver, tellurium, thallium, tin, uranium, vanadium, and zinc.

Heavy metal toxicity can lower energy levels and damage the functioning of the brain, lungs, kidney, liver, blood composition and other important organs. Long-term exposure can lead to gradually progressing physical, muscular, and neurological degenerative processes that imitate diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and muscular dystrophy.

Let’s take a look at some of these heavy metals and their effect on health, beginning with arsenic.

Effects of Arsenic on Human Health

Most of the paints, dyes, soaps, metals, semi-conductors and drugs contain arsenic. Certain pesticides, fertilizers and animal feeding operations also release arsenic to the environment in higher amounts. The inorganic forms of arsenic such as arsenite and arsenate are found to be more dangerous to human health. They are highly carcinogenic and can cause cancer of lungs, liver, bladder and skin.

Humans are exposed to arsenic by means of air, food and water. Drinking water contaminated with arsenic is one of the major causes for arsenic toxicity in more than 30 countries in the world.

Chronic arsenic toxicity is characterised by pigmentation and keratosis with specific skin lesions.

Lower levels of arsenic exposure can cause nausea and vomiting, reduced production of erythrocytes and leukocytes, abnormal heartbeat, pricking sensation in hands and legs, and damage to blood vessels.

Long-term exposure can lead to the formation of skin lesions, internal cancers, neurological problems, pulmonary disease, peripheral vascular disease, hypertension and cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus.

lead toxicityEffects of Lead on Human Health

Lead is used for the production of batteries, cosmetics, metal products such as ammunitions, solder and pipes, etc. Lead is highly toxic and hence its use in various products, such as paints, gasoline, etc., has been considerably reduced nowadays.

The major sources of lead are drinking water from old plumbing systems or through new dripless faucets made of metal alloys containing lead. Insecticides, pigments, enamels and glazes, solder, varnishes, certain plastics, gasoline additives and heavy greases are other sources.

Children absorb 50% of the lead they are exposed to (vrs. 10% for adults) because their nervous systems and other organs are still developing and vulnerable. One’s IQ level is affected by any level of lead in the brain. Lead has a special affinity for brain gray matter.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), lead is considered a carcinogen. Lead has major effects on different parts of the body. Lead distribution in the body initially depends on the blood flow into various tissues and almost 95% of lead is deposited in the form of insoluble phosphate in skeletal bones.

Toxicity of lead, also called lead poisoning, can be either acute or chronic. Acute exposure can cause loss of appetite, headache, hypertension, abdominal pain, renal dysfunction, fatigue, sleeplessness, arthritis, hallucinations and vertigo.

Acute exposure mainly occurs in the place of work and in some manufacturing industries which make use of lead. Chronic exposure of lead can result in mental retardation, birth defects, psychosis, autism, allergies, dyslexia, weight loss, hyperactivity, paralysis, muscular weakness, brain damage, kidney damage and may even cause death.

mercury toxicityEffects of Mercury on Human Health

Mercury is considered the most toxic heavy metal in the environment. Mercury is released into the environment by the activities of various industries such as pharmaceuticals, paper and pulp preservatives, agriculture industry, and chlorine and caustic soda production industry.

Exposure to elevated levels of metallic, organic and inorganic mercury can damage the brain, kidneys and the developing fetus. Mercury is present in most foods and beverages in the range <1 to 50 μg/kg. In marine foods it is often seen at higher levels. Organic mercury can easily permeate across the biomembranes and since they are lipophilic in nature, mercury is present in higher concentrations in most species of fatty fish and in the liver of lean fish.

The nervous system is very sensitive to all types of mercury. Increased exposure of mercury can alter brain functions and lead to shyness, tremors, memory problems, irritability, and changes in vision or hearing.

Symptoms of organic mercury poisoning include depression, memory problems, tremors, fatigue, headache, hair loss, etc. Since these symptoms are common also in other conditions, it may be difficult to diagnose such cases.

cadmium toxicityEffects of Cadmium on Human Health

Cadmium is a metal of the 20th century. It is a byproduct of zinc production. Soils and rocks, including coal and mineral fertilizers, contain some amount of cadmium. Cadmium has many applications, e.g. in batteries, pigments, plastics and metal coatings and is widely used in electroplating.

Cadmium and its compounds are classified as Group 1 carcinogens for humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Severe dementia can occur from cadmium poisoning as a result of cigarette smoking, tobacco containing an immense amount of cadmium. Cadmium inhibits the formation of many enzymes and the action of nutrients in the body, and produces high blood pressure, anemia, liver damage, and metabolic kidney dysfunction and can contribute to osteoporosis, dementia, calcium stones, hypertension, hair loss, low blood hemoglobin levels, etc.

Cadmium weakens the immune system to allow encroachment by bacteria, viruses, fungi, worms, parasites and malignant tumors. Organ meats, oysters and other seafood, ceramics, evaporated milk, and pesticides are additional cadmium sources.

Cadmium and its compounds are highly water soluble compared to other metals. Their bioavailability is very high and hence it tends to bioaccumulate. Long-term exposure to cadmium can result in pathological changes in the kidneys. Smokers are more susceptible for cadmium intoxication than non-smokers. Tobacco is the main source of cadmium uptake in smokers as tobacco plants, like other plants, can accumulate cadmium from the soil. Non-smokers are exposed to cadmium via food and some other pathways.

heavy metals and healthEffects of Aluminium on Human Health

Aluminum, (specific gravity 2.7) in soda/beer cans, aluminum foil, pots and pans, leaches out in acidic or water-soluble circumstances. There are aluminum additives in cheese products, baking powder, deodorants, antacids, lipstick and other cosmetics, hair spray, pizza, cake mixes and more.

Aluminum accumulates in the body over time, and in the brain where it’s considered a prime suspect in various brain diseases, including Alzheimer’s. Coffee tends to aggravate the brain problem, as caffeine increases stomach hydrochloric acid levels. When the stomach fluids become excessively acidic, any aluminum present in one’s diet or in one’s drugs will collect and be transported in the bloodstream to the brain.

Aluminium showed adverse effects on the nervous system and resulted in loss of memory, problems with balance and loss of co-ordination.

Natural Heavy Metal Detox

One of the best and safest ways of protecting yourself against these detrimental heavy metals is to use a natural heavy metal detox formulation that has been tested and known to work.

In cases of acute poisoning it may be necessary to be hospitalised and a medicinal chelator used to help eliminate toxic metals from body.

In cases where the heavy metals have accumulated over time, a natural oral chelator such as HMD™ is the safest way of eliminating the heavy metals from body.

So, what is the best way of getting rid of toxic metals naturally?

One of the natural heavy metal detox products that has been scientifically tested in double-blind, placebo controlled trials is HMD™ – you can read the science behind the product to see the details of the study.

removing heavy metal body