โลหะหนัก - Heavy Metal

Heavy Metal Poisoning and The Health.

Heavy Metal

          In modern times, we are exposed to more and more contaminants that are toxic to the body and come with food, water, air and the surrounding environment every day.  We absorb those toxins into our body unknowingly all the time. especially the heavy metal substances when accumulated in the body in larger amounts affecting health. This is a major cause of chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) [Read the article about NCDs, click here.] and cancer.

What are heavy metals and where are they?

          Heavy metals refer to metals with a density of more than 5 grams. They are latent in food, air, and water, and they are ingested by humans. Whether it’s through direct exposure to contaminants like heavy metals or contaminated drinking water, or through indirect consumption, such as growing fruits and vegetables or aquaculture in sources contaminated with heavy metals, end consumers are exposed to heavy metals from ingesting contaminated food.

For example:  

  • Aluminium
  • Cadmium
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Arsenic

How do heavy metals enter the body?

  • Eating: Eat and drink contaminated foods. For instance, aquaculture in heavy metal contaminated area, herbal medicines contained heavy metals, and drink contaminated water.
  • Airway: Inhalation of dust containing certain heavy metals or cigarette smoke.
  • Skin contact: Absorption through the skin from working in factories that use heavy metals as an ingredient, or in some cosmetics.

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Heavy metal contamination: Where is it found?

  1. Aluminium : Tap water, antacids, and food colouring
  2. Arsenic : Rice, vegetables, fruits, drinking water, seafood, and cosmetics. Arsenic is an important component in the pesticide manufacturing industry, the tanning industry, and in steel mills.

  3. Cadmium : Hair dye, lipstick, and nail polish. Cadmium as a contaminant in the environment is generally found in mining sites. Also contaminated in cigarette industries as well as zinc and lead.

  4. Lead : Interior and exterior painting colour, lead mining, and battery manufacturing

  5. Mercury : Seafood and cosmetics

Heavy metal poisoning

  • Heavy metals accumulate in small amounts or levels that may not cause toxicity, but can adversely affect the body.
  • Interferes with certain enzymes inside the cells, resulting in abnormal functioning of the nervous system, hormones, digestion and absorption of food, and the body’s immune system.
  • If a pregnant woman or child is exposed to heavy metal, it will result in abnormal growth and development.
  • Causing abnormalities at the cellular level, such as cell malfunction, abnormal division, or cell death.
  • May cause damage at the chromosomal level, which can cause genetic abnormalities.
  • Heavy metals are also responsible for causing free radicals that are precursors in various diseases.

Trigger blood vessel inflammation. The walls of blood vessels become rough, resulting in hardening of the arteries. Thromboembolism, lack of flexibility and contraction become a risk factor for blood vessel narrowing and thus the ability to bring nutrients to various organs in the body becomes ineffective.

This results in continuous deterioration of organs in the body, such as :

  • Alzheimer’s disease

  • Parkinson’s disease

  • Heart disease

  • Diabetes

  • Hypertension

  • Stress

  • Thought and memory issues.

  • Depressive disorders

  • Diseases associated with osteoporosis

  • Hypoglycaemia

Warning symptoms when heavy metals enter the body:

  • Fatigue, weakness
  • Frequent headaches
  • Sleeplessness and poor concentration
  • Allergic rash; hives
  • Asthma and shortness of breath
  • Diarrhoea, nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting
  • Anaemia
  • Numbness of hands and toes
อาการเเมื่อโลหะหนักเข้าสู่ร่างกาย - Warning symptoms when heavy metals enter the body

Who is at risk of heavy metal toxins in the body?

  • Those who engage in occupations involving heavy metals, such as employees of chemical factories, batteries, pesticides, etc.
  • Those who live near industrial sites
  • Those who buy prepared foods that may be contaminated with heavy metals from various raw materials.
  • People who eat seafood which comes from contaminated sources of wastewater discharged from industrial plants.
  • People who regularly eat fruits and vegetables contaminated with pesticides.
  • People who regularly colour their hair, and who manicure using non-standard products.
  • Those with amalgam fillings
  • People who have regular outdoor activities in spaces that may be contaminated

How can we assess the accumulation of heavy metals in the body?

  • Urine test
  • Blood test

Reference :

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