Heavy metals: what are they and how they affect health
Heavy metals are chemical elements that, in their pure form, are solid and can be toxic to the body when consumed, causing damage to various body organs, such as the lungs, kidneys, stomach and even the brain.
However, some heavy metals such as copper, which is important for the body in certain places, mercury or arsenic can be very toxic and should be avoided. These metals are often present in contaminated water, so they can end up contaminating the air and food, causing health problems throughout the years.
Heavy metals do not cause symptoms when they come into contact with the body for the first time, however, they have the ability to accumulate within the body’s cells, causing problems such as renal alterations, brain damage and there is even a suspicion that they can increase risk of cancer.
How do they affect health
The 6 most dangerous heavy metals for health are mercury, arsenic, plomo, barium, cadmium and chromium. Depending on the type of metal that accumulates in the body, the symptoms can vary:
1. Lead poisoning
Lead intoxication is difficult to identify, and even apparently healthy people can have high levels of lead in the organism. However, as it accumulates in the body, it can cause the following symptoms:
- Pain in the joints and muscles;
- Increase in blood pressure;
- Constant abdominal pain;
- Memory and concentration difficulties;
- Anemia with no apparent cause.
In more serious cases, kidney problems, brain problems and abortion in embarassed women or infertility in men can develop.
Where is it present: el plomo can be found all over the environment, including the aire, the water and the suelo, which is a very metal used by the industry to manufacture objects such as pilas, water pipes, paints or gasoline, for example.
How to avoid contamination: Avoid having objects with this type of metal in your home, especially in pipes or in wall paintings.
2. Arsenic poisoning
Arsenic is a type of heavy metal whose intoxication can give rise to the appearance of the following symptoms:
- Nausea, vomiting and severe diarrhea;
- Pain in the head and seas;
- Alteration of the heart rate;
- Constant tingling en las manos y en los pies.
These symptoms can appear in a maximum of 30 minutes. However, when the songs are very low, this metal is slowly accumulating in the organism and, in these cases, there is a very high risk of cancer of the skin, lungs, liver or bladder.
Where is it present: It can be found in paints, dyes, medicines, soaps, as well as in fertilizers and pesticides. In addition, arsenic can be found in the water of private wells that are not regularly analyzed and disinfected by water companies.
How to avoid contamination: It is recommended not to use materials that contain this type of metal in its composition and to avoid ingesting foods with coloring or untreated water.
3. Mercury poisoning
The contamination of the organism by mercury generally causes the following symptoms:
- Nausea and vomiting;
- constant diarrhea;
- Frequent feeling of anxiety;
- Increase in blood pressure.
On a large scale, intoxication with this type of metal can also cause problems for the kidneys and the brain, as well as changes in vision and hearing and memory problems.
Where is it present: contaminated water, direct contact with mercury, contact with the inside of lamps or dicks and some dental treatments.
How to avoid contamination: do not consume water or food that may be contaminated, so how to change all objects that have mercury in their composition, especially thermometers and old lamps.
4. Barium poisoning
Barium is a type of heavy metal that does not cause the appearance of cancer, however, it can cause the following symptoms:
- Abdominal cramps and diarrhea;
- Difficulty breathing;
- Muscle weakness.
Asimism, some people may present a progressive increase in blood pressure.
Where is it present: some types of fluorescent lamps, artificial fires, paints, tiles, ceramic tiles, glass, gum and even certain diagnostic tools.
How to avoid contamination: avoid visiting construction sites without a protective mask, to prevent inhalation or ingestion of contaminated octopus with barium.
5. Cadmium poisoning
Cadmium ingestion can cause the following symptoms:
- Abdominal pain;
- Nausea and vomiting;
At the same time, the ingestion or inhalation of this metal can cause kidney diseases, lung problems and weakness of the bones.
Where is it present: in all types of soil or piedras, as well as in carbon, mineral fertilizers, pilas and plastics from some toys.
How to avoid contamination: do not use materials that contain this type of metal in its composition and avoid smoking, use the cigarrillo with carbon that facilitates the contact between cadmium and the lungs.
6. Chromium poisoning
The main form of chromium intoxication occurs due to inhalation. When this occurs, the following symptoms may arise:
- Nasal irritation;
- Difficulty breathing;
- Asthma and constant cough.
In the long term, permanent lesions can appear in the liver, kidneys, circulatory system and skin.
Where is it present: Chrome is used to manufacture objects in stainless steel, cement, paper and gum (hule), and it can be easily inhaled in places where there are construction works or during the burning of paper or gum, for example.
How to avoid contamination: You should go to construction sites only with masks and avoid burning paper or gum.
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