The Effects of Heavy Metals on the Body


Heavy metals naturally occur in nature. Some heavy metals are necessary for our bodies to function, but can be harmful in large quantities. Other heavy metals have no benefit to the human body that we know of, and can actually be dangerous to the body systems. Heavy metals exist all around us in our water, air and soil. Understand the effects heavy metals have on the body and take measures to prevent over-exposure.

Brain and Nervous System

  • Arsenic is a heavy metal that is present in our water and soil due to it's use in herbicides, pesticides, animal feed and power plant processes. Arsenic is known to cause damage to the peripheral nervous system. It can be the cause of numbness in your extremities, and it can cause abnormal EEG readings. Mercury is also known to cause damage to the nervous system. Mercury poisoning may result in brain damage. Individuals who have high levels of mercury exposure may have cognitive and learning difficulties. Mercury has been linked to attention problems and speech delays as well. Humans can be exposed to mercury through dental fillings, mercury-filled thermometers, light bulbs, paint and skin creams. Mercury can also be found in fish, produce, grains and animal products because of its presence in our waters. Aluminum, lead, copper and thallium are other metals that have been shown to have adverse affects on the nervous system and brain function. Lead is linked to ADHD and low IQ scores. Damage to your body's neurological functioning can result in poor function of your metabolism, learning abilities, and your body functions as a whole.

Heart and Cardiovascualar System

  • Arsenic is extremely harmful to the heart and the cardiovascular system. It can lead to damage in the blood vessels, anemia, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Copper is another heavy metal that damages the cardiovascular system. It also can lead to hypertension, an increased heart rate, and anemia. Copper can be found in cookware, birth control pills, insecticides, and in your drinking water because pipes are made of copper in some instances. Lead and thallium have also been linked to hypertension and disruption of cardiovascular functioning. Lead is present in drinking water and some paints. Thallium is found in drinking water and is emitted in gas form from factories.

Lungs and Respiratory System

  • Aluminum, arsenic and and mercury have all been shown to have negative effects on the lungs and respiratory functioning. Arsenic has been known to cause cancer of the respiratory tract both from inhalation and ingestion of the toxin. Mercury can cause bronchitis and pneumonia. Asthma can be aggravated by both arsenic and aluminum. X metals are linked to pulmonary edema and ulcers of the nose or a deviated septum.

Skin, Muscles and Hair

  • Metals can even cause damage to our skin, muscles and hair. Metals can disrupt your body's pH levels which can lead to rashes and loss of bone density. Aluminum, copper, arsenic and mercury can cause aggravated skin conditions such as eczema. Thallium, lead and copper can cause muscle pain and decrease the muscle strength. Heavy metals can be stored in body tissue and hair. Even low levels of these metals in your body can cause the endocrine system disruption and lead to aches, pains, rashes, hormone imbalance and acne.

Stomach and Inetstines

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