Toxic Metals Are Making You Sick
Are Toxic Metals the Reason You Feel Sick?
What Are Toxic Metals?
Toxic Metals are all around us. They’re in the air we breathe and the food we eat. Even if you live in a clean city and eat organic produce with every meal, you will inevitably expose your body to toxins at some point or another.
That doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it.
Today, we’re talking about toxins in the body and what you can do to prevent them from negatively affecting your life.
What are the Most Common Toxic Metals?
You encounter toxic metals every day. Here are a few of the most common toxic metals in the world today:
There are plenty of other toxic metals that poison our water, food, and air, although the metals listed above tend to be the most common.
Why are Toxic Metals Bad?
Our bodies are not designed to process or digest toxic metals. They’re not built to cleanse mercury from the system or pass lead safely out of the body.
As a result, those who are exposed to heavy metals often have poor digestive issues. They also have a higher risk of deadly diseases like cancer. Many people who are frequently exposed to toxic metals are just generally sick. They may suffer from chronic diseases or have weakened immune systems.
New evidence has shown that toxic metals can also contribute to Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, among other chronic neurological disorders.
There Are Two Types of Toxic Metal Exposure
The two main types of toxic metal exposure include:
— Acute Toxicity: Caused by high levels of metals in your body, like sudden exposure to a toxic source.
— Low-Level Chronic Exposure: Caused by long-term exposure to low levels of chronic metals.
The second type of exposure is far more common than the first. Sometimes, workers are exposed to heavy metals throughout the course of their career and only develop toxicity problems as they grow older, for example.
The Most Common Sources of Toxic Metals
Toxic metals are all around us. Here are some of the places you can be exposed to toxic metals:
Mercury from Fish
Fish contain high levels of toxic metals – primarily mercury. Industrial pollutants make their way through waterways and pollute the rivers and streams. Toxic metals eventually concentrate in the flesh of fish, who have no way of passing the toxic metal from their blood.
Making matters worse is that big fish eat smaller fish. The mercury moves up the food chain, becoming more and more concentrated as the fish get larger.
By the time we get to large fish like tuna, mercury is prevalent in sufficient amounts to cause toxicity. That’s why some people recommend eating no more than two cans of tuna per week. If you like tuna a lot and want to eat more of it without exposing yourself to mercury, then eat chunk light tuna: it’s been shown to contain less mercury than canned albacore tuna.
Lead from Paint, Gasoline, Water, and Batteries
Lead is one of the most common toxic metals in the world today. It’s being phased out in most consumer goods and industrial processes, although traces of it still remain all around us.
Some of the most common sources of lead include:
— Lead Based Paint
— Leaded Gasoline
— Lead Contaminated Water
— Lead Batteries
— Rubber And Glass Products
— Lead Oxide Fumes Which Are Caused When Demolishing Old Industrial Buildings
Leaded gasoline isn’t used in most parts of the world. In fact, the vast majority of countries have banned the use of leaded gasoline. Even developing continents like Africa have totally banned the use of leaded gasoline: on January 1, 2006, Africa issued a continent-wide ban on leaded gasoline.
In 2002, a study estimated that approximately 38 million houses in the United States contained lead-based paint. In 1990, that number was estimated at 64 million. Today, that number has likely declined even more, although lead-based paint is still a problem in households across America and the world. That study also concluded that housing in the northeast and Midwest had about twice the prevalence of lead-based paint hazards compared with housing in the South and West parts of the country.
Children are far more susceptible to lead absorption than adults, and are far more likely to be affected by lead-based paint.
In developed countries, it’s uncommon for anyone to be exposed to lead through drinking water or the air. However, those who live near an incinerator or toxic dump may be exposed to trace amounts in the drinking water and air – although new pollution standards have virtually eliminated these cases.
Aluminum from Water, Cookware, Aluminum Foil, and Antiperspirant
Our main sources of aluminum toxicity come from some surprising sources. Some people refuse to use aluminum cookware because they believe it leads to aluminum toxicity, for example.
Other people believe that our primary sources of aluminum are antiperspirants and water. Some people refuse to use antiperspirants because they believe aluminum gets absorbed by your body. Today, few antiperspirants contain aluminum. Antiperspirants that do contain aluminum products contain such small amounts that they could never harm you. As WebMD.com explains:
“Unless you eat your stick or spray it into your mouth, your body can’t absorb that much aluminum.”
Getting aluminum toxicity from drinking water is uncommon in developed countries, but is still a problem in certain developing parts of the world.
Arsenic from Pesticides and Wood
Arsenic is another relatively common toxic metal. Organic arsenic compounds can be found in pesticides and inorganic arsenic is often used to preserve wood. Making matters worse is the fact that many arsenic compounds dissolve in water, which means arsenic can easily leak into the environment and travel through waterways to enter the food chain.
You’re more likely to be exposed to arsenic through occupational hazards than anything else. If you live near a hazardous waste site or a sawmill, for example, then you may be more likely to ingest arsenic.
Nevertheless, arsenic isn’t deadly in trace amounts. In January 2001, the EPA revised the standard allowable level of arsenic in drinking water from 50 parts per billion (ppb) to 10 ppb. Water and air in most developed countries is far below this amount.
If you live in a developed country, the only time you should be concerned about arsenic is if you’re drinking water from a well: get your well water tested (many jurisdictions legally require you to test your well water every year anyway) and then stop worrying about arsenic.
Cadmium from Cigarette Smoke, Food, and Water
Cadmium is a naturally-occurring metal commonly found in food, water, and cigarette smoke. Like most other metals on this list, cadmium accumulates in the body and stays there for a long time.
Most of the food we eat contains no cadmium or trace amounts of it. However, cadmium, like mercury, can become concentrated as you move up the food chain. It’s more prevalent in liver and kidney meats, for example, and can also be found in higher amounts in shellfish.
Is There Really Mercury in Vaccines?
If you look on the internet, you’ll find some nutty conspiracy theorists arguing that vaccines are one of the primary sources of mercury in the world today. This is where the whole “vaccines cause autism” argument comes from.
Unfortunately for those conspiracy theorists, mercury stopped being used in most vaccines a long time ago. In fact, mercury was never actually used in vaccines: vaccines used an ethyl mercury derivative called thimerosal as a preservative.
This preservative is used to kill harmful bacteria in the vaccine, which would otherwise neutralize the vaccine.
Many countries have totally eliminated thimerosal from their vaccines. No children’s vaccine made in Canada since March 2001, for example, has contained thimerosal, with the exception of the influenza vaccine. Other common vaccines, like DTaP, polio, and Hib, have not contained thimerosal since 1997, and the MMR vaccine has never contained thimerosal.
In the United States, the FDA was recently forced to issue a statement on the use of mercury in vaccines. The FDA claimed that thimerosal has been used as a preservative in vaccines since the 1930s. Thimerosal is 49.6% mercury by white and exists in concentrations of 0.003% to 0.01% in the average vaccine.
The FDA claims that the “use of mercury-containing preservatives in vaccines has declined markedly since 1999” and that the “FDA is continuing its efforts toward reducing or removing thimerosal from all existing vaccines.”
Today, children’s vaccines made in the United States contain “no thimerosal or only trace amounts (1 microgram or less mercury per dose).”
Ultimately, the average human being has whole blood mercury levels of less than 2 mcg/dL.
The FAO and WHO recommend a provisional weekly intake for mercury of 1.6 mcg/kg, and the U.S. EPA safe level for daily intake is 0.1 mcg/kg. If your child weighs 80 pounds, the safe level for daily intake is about 3.6 mcg. Remember there is 1 mcg or less mercury in each vaccine, and most vaccines contain 0 micrograms of mercury.
If you’re still worried about the mercury in vaccines causing autism, then you don’t have to look far online to find sources to reassure you. One of the most trusted studies came from the Institute of Medicine (IOM)’s Immunization Safety Review Committee in 2004:
“In 2004, the IOM's Immunization Safety Review Committee again examined the hypothesis that vaccines, specifically the MMR vaccines and thimerosal containing vaccines, are causally associated with autism. In this report, the committee incorporated new epidemiological evidence from the U.S., Denmark, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, and studies of biologic mechanisms related to vaccines and autism that had become available since its report in 2001. The committee concluded that this body of evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism, and that hypotheses generated to date concerning a biological mechanism for such causality are theoretical only. Further, the committee stated that the benefits of vaccination are proven and the hypothesis of susceptible populations is presently speculative, and that widespread rejection of vaccines would lead to increases in incidences of serious infectious diseases like measles, whooping cough and Hib bacterial meningitis”
That was in 2004. Today, we’re starting to see the impact this fear mongering has spread among uninformed members of the population. Measles and mumps are causing illnesses for the first time in decades.
To make a long story short: you should be more worried about mercury levels in your fish and your makeup than you should in vaccines.
How to Get Tested for Metal Toxicity Problems
The symptoms of metal toxicity cover a wide range of areas. Some general symptoms of heavy metal toxicity include:
— Abdominal Pain
— Central Nervous System Dysfunction
— Heart Problems
— Fingernail Or Toenail Discoloration Or Problems
If you chronically suffer from one or more of the above symptoms, then you may want to consider undergoing a toxicity test.
The most common toxicity tests include:
Blood Testing: Commercial blood tests are available to test for specific metals, including lead, mercury, iron, and copper.
Urine Testing: Urine tests can indicate cumulative exposure and total body burden for some metals – especially cadmium. They can also indicate recent acute exposure for other metals – like mercury.
Hair and Nail Testing: Analyzing the hair and nails can help identify high levels of cadmium, arsenic, and mercury.
X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF): XRF is a non-invasive testing technique which assess tissue deposits of metals (cumulative exposure) and can be used to detect cadmium in kidneys and lead in bones. XRF is rarely used today and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a clinical willing to perform XRF.
How to Treat Metal Toxicity
Many people believe they need to treat their metal toxicity problems by detoxifying. The primary way in which people treat metal toxicity is through chelation therapy. Chelation therapy involves using special compounds called “chelators” to enhance the body’s ability to push toxic metals out of the body.
Popular chelation methods include:
— Dimercaprol (BAL)
— Succimer (DMSA)
— Calcium-disodium EDTA
— Prussian blue
— Penicillamine (Cuprimine)
— Iron Chelators
All of the above chelators are widely available across the United States and most other countries.
Should You Really be Worried About Toxic Metals?
When you look up the most common sources for various toxic metals, you’ll notice a common theme: toxic metals primarily affect people who live or work near hazardous waste sites. That’s important because most toxic waste sites are typically placed far, far away from residential areas. And also because if you work near a hazardous waste site, you’ve probably received specialized training in how to deal with toxic metals.
The only other time you should be worried about toxic metals is if you’re traveling or living in developing parts of the world. In many parts of the world, tap water is unsafe to drink – and not just because it contains arsenic and other metals.
Tap water could contain deadly bacteria and other serious hazards.
So to recap: you should be concerned about toxic metals if you:
a) Live or work near a toxic waste site; or
b) Live or work in a developing country with lax environmental regulations
On the other hand, if you live in a developed country and buy most of your food from other developed countries, you should not have to worry about the levels of toxic metals in your food. Today’s environmental regulations have virtually eliminated toxic metals from the air and water in the developed world.