Toxic Elements Our sedentary lifestyles and improper habits have lead to many deadly diseases permeating into each and every system of our body. The growing urge of every industry for creating bigger and better has led us to a path where things are frequently changing into traumatic conditions. Do you recall the Bhopal gas tragedy, one of the worst tragedies which people encountered and still remember - It was the methyl isocyanate gas containing Carbon as the core element, which is also the major toxins in our body makeup as already discussed previously. Though we cannot say that Bhopal Gas Tragedy only Carbon was responsible for this incident, it is an example that makes one realize how an element which is essential, could also have deleterious effect.
This is a small example but the exponentially growing urbanization, gigantic industries and other anthropogenic reasons are leading the population towards the ignorant and the unwanted exposure of toxic elements. The root cause of this is the unawareness and lack of knowledge about the hazardous effects of these toxic elements. Each industry today flows out tons of heavy metals with effluents in the water bodies. When the water from these sources are consumed as drinking water, it could lead to the symptoms emerging from the metal toxicities. Some of the toxic elements are mentioned here for your knowledge that could get into the body through food, water or air:
Aluminium Aluminium is the metal that is widely used in our daily life such as in utensils, paints, sheets, etc. To add to your knowledge, it is a light weight, bluish white metal, which is a good conductor of heat. Wires and sheets are made out of it.
The role of aluminium as an essential element in diet is not clear until now, but the increased uptake or exposure by means of food or occupation or any other passive means is well understood.
Occurrence After oxygen and silicon, aluminium is the 3" highest in terms of its abundance in the earth. It is approximately 1% in the whole earth and around 8% in earth crust.
Industry It is majorly used in manufacturing and metal finishing process, fireworks, ceramics and paints, electrical goods, smelting industry and manufacturing of abrasives.
Target Organs Bones, brain, kidneys and stomach.
Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease are also caused
due to chronic effects of aluminium toxicity. Acute toxicity could lead to :
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
kidney and liver dysfunction
Sources of Exposure Occupational exposure and through contaminated food (especially seafood) and water is seen.
Detoxification Method Chelation through Ethylenediaminetetraacetic Acid (EDTA) or chlorella and cilantro in combination can make a dent in the level of aluminium.
Global Statistics Aluminium toxicity is highest in continents like Africa, Asia and South America.
Arsenic toxins is a metalloid (having properties of metals and non-metals) element found in soil and minerals which forms a number of poisonous compounds. Arsenic compounds are generally used to preserve wood, as pesticides, etc. Arsenic can get into air, water and the ground from wind-blown dust. It may also get into water from runoff.
A small quantity of daily intake of arsenic is found to be essential for the normal functioning of body, thus it is also called as trace element when talked about in terms of dietary update. But the toxicity of arsenic is researched more than the essentiality and is well documented.Book Toxic Elements Test package
Occurrence The abundance of arsenic in the earth's crust is about five grams per ton; the cosmic abundance is estimated as about four atoms per million atoms of silicon. The element is widely distributed and small amount exists in the native state, in 90-98% purity.
Target Organs Blood, kidney, central nervous system, digestive system and skin.
- Arsenic exposure could lead to symptoms such as:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Decreased production of red and white blood cells
- Abnormal heart rhythm
- Damage to blood vessels
- Sensation of "pins and needles" in hands and feet
- Darkening of the skin
- Appearance of small "corns" or "warts" on the palms, soles and torso
- Death in some cases
Sources of Exposure Contaminated foods (especially seafoods), water or medications.
Detoxification Method Chelation through Ethylenediaminetetraacetic Acid (EDTA), antioxidants like vitamin, selenomethionine, lipoic acid.
Global Statistics As a result of leaching from mine tailings, the arsenic toxicity is found in Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Thailand, United Kindgom and the United States. Recently it was found that from water supply, the toxicity has raised in Argentina, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Chile, China, Ghana, Hungary, Inner Mongolia, Mexico, Nepal, New Zealand, Philippines, Taiwan, the United States and Vietnam. Due to use of around 20,000 tons of pesticides a year in USA, arsenic now appears in foodstuffs.
Barium Barium is a yellowish white soft metallic element and is silvery white when in pure state. Barium comes from the greek word 'barys' meaning heavy. Small amounts of barium compounds are used in paints and glasses. It could be beaten to form sheets, a property known as malleability.
Barium and all its compounds are highly toxic and show acute toxicity when taken orally and are possibly lethal. Nevertheless, barium is used in a test known as Barium enema that is a kind of radiological investigation in which an X-ray of the gastrointestinal tract is done to have a look inside the intestines.
Occurrence Barium is the 14" most abundant element in the earth's crust, amounting to about 0.04-0.05%. The terrestrial abundance of barium has been estimated at 250 g/ton and its occurrence in sea water is 0.006 g/ton.
Industry Barium is majorly employed in the manufacturing of spark-plug electrode, fluorescent lamp, diagnostic medicine, firework, paint, brick, ceramics, glass and rubber. It is also used as a drying agent in vacuum tubes and oxygen-removing agent.
Target Organs Lungs, reproductive organs, cardiovascular system, gastrointestinal system and nervous system
Acute symptoms of barium toxicity are:
- Abdominal cramps
- Difficulties in breathing
- Increased or decreased blood pressure
- Numbness around the face
- Muscle weakness
- Changes in heart rhythm or paralysis
- Possibly death
Sources of Exposure Contaminated food, water or medication and occupational exposure.
Detoxification Method Chelating/bonding with Dimercaptosuccinic Acid (DMSA), taking antioxidants like vitamin C or to go for a stomach cleanse.
Global Statistics Barium toxicity is highest in USA, especially in California.
Bromine Bromine comes from the Greek word 'bromos', meaning stench because bromine smells 'stinky'. It is one of the only three elements that is liquid at room temperature although it is non-metallic. Elemental bromine is a toxic substance and can cause corrosion bums when exposed to skin. Bromine is highly intoxicating if inhaled or swallowed.
Occurrence Bromine is the 25" element in order of abundance in the earth's crust and is estimated to be about 1.6 to 2.4 parts per million.
Industry It has a wide range of applications, majority of them are mentioned here. Bromine is used as a water purifier/disinfectant, in control of algae and bacterial growth, as pesticides and soil fumigants to prevent pests. It is also used in leaded fuel as a constituent of 'antiknock fluid' and in batteries for electric cars, to make the light-sensitive component of a photographic emulsion and as an ingredient in photo development, in the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals including analgesics, sedatives and antihistamines. It is also the active ingredient in several drugs that treat pneumonia and cocaine addiction.
Target Organs The upper and lower respiratory tract, skin and eyes.
Symptoms Bromine toxicity could lead to the following symptoms:
Severe deep burns
- Abdominal cramps
Could even collapse
Sources of Exposure Occupational exposure and through contaminated foodstuffs.
Detoxification Method Chelation through Dimercaptosuccinic Acid (DMSA), cilantro, chlorella, consumption of antioxidants like vitamin C. Other ways are liver cleansing.
Global Statistics Bromine poisoning is highest in California as it is the largest producer of it.
Cadmium Cadmium is a lustrous, silver-white, ductile and very malleable metal. Its surface has a bluish tinge and the metal is soft enough to be cut with a knife, but it tarnishes in air. It is capable of taking a high polish and emits a cracking sound when bent; it can be rolled out into sheets.
Occurrence Cadmium is a relatively rare element. Its abundance in the lithosphere is estimated at about 0.5 parts per million in the earth's crust.
Industry Cadmium is used in the battery industry, pigment manufacturing, electroplating and in imitation jewellery making.
Acute symptoms of cadmium toxicity are:
Diarrhea, stomach pain and severe vomiting
Psychological failure and possibly infertility
Damage to the central nervous system
Damage to the immune system Possibly
DNA damage or cancer development
Sources of Exposure Drinking water, terrestrial and aquatic food, smoking and occupational exposure.
Detoxification Method Chelating with 2,3-Dimercapto-1-propanesulfonic acid (DMPS), Ethylenediaminetetraacetic Acid (EDTA) and natural chelator chlorella.
Global Statistics Found to be highest in China, South Korea, and Japan followed by North America.
Caesium It is silvery gold, soft and ductile. It is one of the three metals that are liquid at or around room temperature. The nomenclature of Caesium arose from the Latin word 'caesius' meaning 'sky blue' or 'heavenly blue'. It is naturally not radioactive but is made radioactive in nuclear reactors. However, both non-radioactive and radioactive forms are used for medical therapies. Nonradioactive Caesium is employed in treatment of cancer, a kind of therapy known as 'high pH therapy'. It is also used as a treatment for depression.
Occurrence Abundance of Caesium in earth's crust is found to be 3 parts per million by weight and 0.5 parts per million by moles.
Industry Caesium is majorly used as a catalyst promoter, in making optical glasses, as a 'getter', i.e., removing traces of oxygen from vacuum tubes and from light bulbs, and in atomic clocks. It is also used as drilling fluid for the oil industry, propellant in early ion engines designed for spacecraft propulsion and optical character recognition devices, photo-multiplier tubes and video camera tubes. Caesium vapour is used in magnetometers and thermionic generators to convert heat energy to electrical energy. It is also used as an internal standard in spectrophotometry and to improve stability and durability of fiber optics and night vision devices. Other
uses of the metal include high-energy lasers, vapour glow lamps and vapour rectifiers and as a medium for density gradient ultracentrifugation. Caesium-137 is a very common radioisotope, the gamma emission of which is used in cancer and epilepsy treatment and in the sterilization of food, in agriculture, sewage sludge and surgical equipment. Caesium nitrate is used as an oxidizer and pyrotechnic colorant to burn silicon in infrared flares.
Target Organs Heart, erythrocytes, liver and central nervous system.
Exposure to Caesium could lead to following symptoms:
- Muscle weakness
- Palpitations and arrhythmia
- Inhibition of potassium current in myocardial cells
- Increase in intracellular pH affecting erythrocytes liver and central nervous system.
- Eye irritation
Sources of Exposure Contaminated food, occupational exposure, working in radioactive labs and medical therapies.
Detoxification Method Apple pectin is particularly important in the detoxification of Caesium.
Global Statistics found to be highest in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine after the Chernobyl disaster.
Fluorine Fluorine is a pale yellow-green univalent poisonous element, rarely found free in the nature. It comes from the Latin word 'fluere', meaning 'to flow'. Fluorine has a strong and characteristic odour. It is a double edged sword. On one hand the daily supplementation with fluoride is undoubtedly important in protecting dental caries, but if the uptake is in excess then it causes dental and skeleton fluorosis.
Occurrence Fluorine is an abundant element in the earth's crust, estimated at about 0.06% in the earth. That makes it about the 13" most common element in the crust.
Industry Fluorine is used in rocket fuels and to refine uranium. It is also used as etching solutions for glasses, production of hard plastics resistant to high temperatures (teflon), pharmacological products, toothpastes, cooling fluids and aerosol products (freon) which are used as a refrigerant.
Target Organs Kidney, gastrointestinal tract, brain and pineal gland.
- Chronic fatigue not relieved by extra sleep or rest
Dryness of the throat and excessive water consumption
- urine tract irritation
- Aches and stiffness in muscles/BonesLithium (arthritis-like pain)
- Muscular weakness and spasms (involuntary twitching)
- Tingling sensation in fingers and feet
- Gastrointestinal disturbances
- Abdominal pains
- Constipation and blood in stools
- Depression and dizziness
- Excessive nervousness
- Tendency to lose balance
- Bloated feeling (gas)
- Tenderness in stomach area
- Feeling of nausea
- Pinkish-red or bluish-red spots (like bruises, but round or oval) -on the skin that clear up in 7-10 days
- Skin rash or itching, especially after showers or bathing
- Mouth sores
- Loss of mental acuity and ability to concentrate
- Visual disturbances (temporary blind spots in field of vision)
- Diminished ability to focus (possible retinal damage)
Sources of Exposure Household products like toothpastes, drinking water and contaminated food.
Detoxification Method Chelation through Dimercaptosuccinic Acid (DMSA), cilantro, chlorella, consumption of antioxidants like vitamin C. Other ways are liver cleansing.
Global Statistics In the USA and in Central Europe generally, the fluoride content is lower in natural waters sources. In Asian countries and in many African countries, levels of fluoride in waters are typically found to be higher. Endemic fluorosis areas has been reported in India, Kenya, the United Republic of Tanzania and other African countries. In China, skeletal fluorosis due to ingestion of excess fluoride, particularly from fluoridecontaining food has been reported.
Lead Lead is a bluish-grey, soft, dense metal that has a bright luster when freshly cut. It tarnishes slowly in moist air. The metal could be beaten into sheets and wires could be drawn. It is extremely resistant to corrosion and is a poor conductor of electricity. Historically, it was used to make statues, coins, utensils and writing tablets. The Romans also used lead for plumbing. They called lead 'plumbum nigrum' meaning black lead.
Occurrence Abundance of lead in the earth's crust is 14 parts per million by weight.
Industry Because of its abundance, low cost and physical properties, lead and lead compounds have been used in a wide variety of products, including paint industry, ceramic glazes, smelting, soldering, brass and bronze foundry, gasoline and cosmetics. Large quantities of lead, both as the metal and as the dioxide, are used in storage batteries. Lead is also used in cable covering, as ammunition, as electrodes and as roofing material. The metal is used as shielding from radiation, e.g., In X-ray rooms and nuclear reactors. Lead oxide is also used in manufacture of fine crystal glass and stained glass. Tetraethyl lead was used as an anti-knock agent in petrol. These uses have been reduced recently because of environmental concerns of cumulative lead poisoning.
Target Organs Bones, brain, blood, kidneys and thyroid gland.
Lead is a highly toxic element having no nutritional value. Its toxicity leads to following
- High blood pressure
- Decline in mental functioning
- Pain, numbness or tingling of the extremities
- Muscular weakness
- Abdominal pain
- Memory loss
- Mood disorders
- Miscarriage or premature birth
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Sluggishness and fatigue
- Learning difficulties
- Reduced sperm count
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Sources of Exposure Mainly due to occupational exposure, contaminated food (especially aquatic), water and toys.
Detoxification Method Chelation through Ethylenediaminetetraacetic Acid (EDTA), Dimercaptosuccinic Acid (DMSA), natural herbs like garlic and modified citrus pectin and antioxidants like vitamin C
Global Statistics The ranking of lead poisoning is in following order: South Africa, Jamaica, India, China, USA, Europe and Australia.
Lithium Lithium is soft and silvery white, and is the least dense of the metals. It's name is derived from the Greek word lithos', meaning 'stone'. It was initially used to treat depression, gout, neutropenia, and for cluster headache prophylaxis but it fell out of favour because of its side effects.
Occurrence Lithium is not found freely in nature and makes up only 0.0007% of the earth's crust.
Industry Pure lithium metal is used in manufacture of batteries, glassware and ceramics, air purification and rocket fuels. The metal is also used to treat people suffering from bipolar disorder. Lithium also has various nuclear applications, for example, as a coolant in nuclear breeder reactors and a source of tritium, which is formed by bombarding lithium with neutrons. Lithium carbonate is used as a mood-stabilizing drug. Lithium chloride and bromide are used as desiccants. Lithium stearate is used as an all purpose and high-temperature lubricant.
Target Organs Kidneys and thyroid.
Lithium is corrosive and causes skin burns on contact with moisture. Other major
symptoms of toxicity includes:
Muscular weakness and lack of coordination
Large output of dilute urine
Nausea and stomach pain
Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
Blurred vision and uncontrollable eye movement (nystagmus)
Ataxia (failure or irregularity of muscle action)
Sources of Exposure Mainly due to occupational exposure, contaminated food, water and medications.
Detoxification Method Gastrointestinal decontamination through activated charcoal and gastric lavage (washing out stomach with sterile water or salt solution), haemodialysis in an emergency case.
Global Statistics China, Chile and Argentina are presently the world's major lithium producers living with highest toxicity. Bolivia and Cuba are in a way to get into the list of lithium toxicity.
Mercury Mercury is one of the few elements that is liquid at ordinary room temperatures. It is a heavy, silvery-white metal. It is a poor conductor of heat, but a fair conductor of electricity. The word mercury originated from the plant Mercury; Hg the symbol for mercury is taken from hydrargyrum, which means liquid silver. Mercury and its compounds are highly poisonous. It is readily absorbed across unbroken skin or through the respiratory or gastrointestinal tract. It acts as a cumulative poison. Mercury's volatility is too high in air.
Occurrence Abundance of mercury in earth's crust is 85 parts per billion by weight
Industry Mercury is majorly employed in mining and smelting industry. It is used in the manufacturing of mirrors, tubelights, bulbs, and batteries. The element is also used in pesticides and fungicide production. Mercury containing instruments such as thermometers and barometers are widely used. Mercury is amalgamated with gold to facilitate the recovery of gold from its ores. It is used to make diffusion pumps, mercury vapour lamps, mercury switches, dental preparations, antifouling paints, pigments and catalysts. Many of the salts and organic mercury compounds are important.
Target Organs Brain, kidney, stomach, eyes and ears.
Poisoning of mercury gives rise to below symptoms:
- Mood swings
- Irritability and other emotional changes
- Abnormal sensations
- Muscle twitching
- Loss of coordination
- Muscle atrophy and decreased cognitive functions
- Peripheral vision impairment
- Stinging or needle-like sensations in the extremities and mouth
- Muscle weakness
- Other impairments of speech and hearing
Sources of Exposure Occupational, foodstuffs (especially fish) and water. Household equipments (such as Compact Fluorescent Lamps or CFLS), therapeutic methods like dental fillings and medications.
Detoxification Method Chelation through 2,3-Dimercapto-1-Propanesulfonic Acid (DMPS) and Dimercaptosuccinic Acid (DMSA), natural chelation through alpha lipoic acid, glutathione; garlic; modified citrus pectin cilantro; and chlorella algae. Antioxidants like vitamin E also help to protect against the toxic effects and its accumulation.
Global Statistics Since last 57 years, Japan is still bearing the sting of Minamata disease caused due to heavy Mercury poisoning. Recently, the increased health and environmental risks of mercury to people is found in developing countries, mostly in Asia, South America and Africa. The places under special threat are Malaysia and Indonesia, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania and Mali, Uruguay and Colombia.
Rubidium Nomenclature of rubidium is done based on the word originating from the Latin word 'rubidius' meaning 'dark red' or 'deepest red' as it gives a red flame on burning. It is a soft, silvery-white metallic element. It melts just a little above body temperature.
Occurrence Rubidium is considered to be the 16th most abundant element in the earth's crust and its abundance is documented to be 90 parts per million by weight.
Industry Rubidium is used in vacuum tubes and photocells, glass and ceramics industry. It is considered to be a potential heat transmission material in space vehicles, as a fuel in motors of ionic propulsion and as an electrolyte in low temperature alkaline batteries. It has a wide use in therapeutic area such as preparing soporific sedatives and in the treatment of epilepsy.
It is also used as a getter (remover of trace gases) in vacuum tubes and as working fluid in vapour turbines. Rubidium-87 is radioactive and has been used extensively in dating rocks. Rubidium compounds give a purple colour in fireworks.
Target Organs Skin, eyes, lungs and mucous membrane.
Signs and symptoms of overexposure are:
- Skin and eye burns
- Failure to gain weight
- Skin ulcers
- Extreme nervousness
- Potassium imbalance
- Neuromuscular hyperirritability
- Reproductive deficiencies
- Violent muscular spasms
- Cutaneous burns
Sources of Exposure Contaminated food and most importantly those who work in radioactive labs and medical therapies.
Detoxification Method Apple pectin is particularly important in the detoxification of Rubidium.
Global Statistics Canada being the highest producer, the maximum toxicity is found here. Occurrences in Afghanistan, Namibia, Peru, Zambia, France, Germany and the United States (New Mexico and Utah), North America, South Africa, Russia are also reported. Northern Chile and China have minor amounts of Rubidium.
Tin Tin is a silvery-white metal which takes a high polish. It possesses a highly crystalline structure; wires and sheets could be drawn upto some moderation. When a bar of Tin is bent, the crystals break, producing a characteristic Tin cry'. There are interesting facts related to the nomenclature of Tin. In Anglo-Saxon, this element is named after Etruscan God, Tinia and in Latin Tin is called as stannum hence denoted by the Latin symbol for stannum. Historically, the Roman called lead ' plumbum nigrum', meaning black lead to differentiate it from 'plumbum album', meaning white lead. Now, 'white lead' is called Tin.
Occurrence Abundance of Tin in earth's crust is 2.3 parts per million by weight.
Industry It is generally used as a coating material to prevent corrosion. Tin plating over steel is used to make cans for storing food. One of the important alloy of tin is soft solder, used for soldering pipes and electrical circuits. Tin salts may be sprayed onto glass to produce electrically conductive coatings. Molten Tin is used to float molten glass to produce window glass. Crystalline Tin-Niobium alloys are superconductive at very low temperature. Tin is also widely employed in manufacturing of spring, ship propellers, musical instruments and metal for bearings.Book Preventive Health Checkup Package
Target Organs Gastrointestinal tract and brain.
Some acute and long term effects of toxicity of tin are presented below:
- Acute Effects
- Nausea and vomiting
- Eye and skin irritations and skin rash
- Stomachaches and diarrhea
- Sickness and dizziness
- Severe sweating
- Breathlessness and palpitations
- Urination problems
- Long-term Effects
- Liver damage
- Malfunctioning of immune systems
- Chromosomal damage
- Shortage of hemoglobin
- Brain damage causing anger, sleeping disorders
forgetfulness and headaches)
Sources of Exposure Food container particles leeching into food or drink, seafood, household products like toothpaste and soap, industrial and occupational exposure.
Detoxification Method Natural therapies include plant extracts and herbs like modified citrus pectin, chlorella and garlic, and antioxidants like vitamin, vitamin C and glutathione. Else gastrointestinal decontamination like liver cleansing should be advised.
Global Statistics Taiwan has been changing from an agricultural society to an industrial society over the past 40 years. Due to this industrial progression, incidence of occupational neurotoxic disease from exposure to various heavy metals, including Tin is especially vulnerable. China, Thailand, Burma, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bolivia and Brazil are some of the highest Tin manufacturers in which Malaysia being the 40% producer of the world's Tin. Due to this reason, these countries are living with Tin toxicity.