Heavy Metals / Toxins
The tests below are indicated for people with suspected exposure to heavy metals or toxins. Exposure to certain hazardous materials such as heavy metals can quickly increase to dangerous levels. Heavy metal exposure may occur through your diet, from the environment, from medications, or from other aspects of your daily life.
There are some heavy metals that are necessary to support life in very small doses, but in large amounts are toxic and can present a health hazard if they build up in the system Zinc is important to the body, as are cobalt atoms found in vitamin B-12. Iron, copper, manganese, chromium and selenium are all needed in small amounts in the body. On the other hand lead, mercury and cadmium are heavy metals that are very toxic to humans, and have no known benefit to the body.
In medical usage, the term "heavy metal" is used as a general term for all metals and semimetals with human or environmental toxicity, regardless of their atomic weight. Lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic are the most common examples of toxic metal exposure (Heavy Metals Profile: Tests for Lead, Mercury, Cadmium, and Arsenic). Other types of heavy metals that when exposed to can lead to toxic levels include chromium, copper, fluoride, zinc, and xylenes.
Toxicity of Heavy Metals
There are several determinants of the toxicity of heavy metals. The type of the metal, how much was absorbed, the age of the person absorbing the metal, and the manner of exposure are all important. Young children are very susceptible to lead poisoning because their brains are not as developed as adults, and even small amounts of lead exposure can cause brain damage. Mercury is usually poorly absorbed through the skin, but mercury can be very toxic if inhaled or injected.
Exposure over a period of time to toxic heavy metals can result in physical, muscular and neurological damages. The effect on the body when exposed long-term can resemble Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and even allergic reactions. According to the International Occupational Safety and Health Information Center, long-term exposure to heavy metals elevates risk for certain cancers.
Heavy metal poisoning is generally uncommon, but is rather serious when it does happen. It can reduce the quality of life for a person. If unrecognized or misdiagnosed, heavy metal poisoning can result in serious health problems and mortality. People can be exposed to dangerous heavy metals through diet, medications, medical procedures (such as titanium, cobalt and chromium from hip or joint replacement surgery), in the home (such as lead paint used in older homes), from the environment or even from working around dangerous chemicals. A complete medical and environmental history should be taken into consideration if exposure is suspected.
Additional Information On Heavy Metals and Toxins
Is your Body Toxic? Three Ways to Find and Eliminate Body Toxins
Can Metal Hurt Me? A List of Heavy Metals and How they Affect you