OCCURRENCE & EXPOSURE TO HEAVY METALS

 

Heavy metals (like cadmium, lead, arsenic, etc.) are natural constituents of the Earth’s crust and have existed on there since the Earth’s formation. As such, oral exposure of these metals is more ubiquitous than many realize. Naturally, these metals or elements can and often leech onto fruits, vegetables, or any plant-based food grown directly in soil or surrounding bodies of water. This environmental exposure impacts both organic and conventionally grown crops. Consequently, if these plants are used to feed livestock then the metals will leech into many animal or animal based products as well. In a similar manner, water obtained from natural springs would contain some of these heavy metals. In fact, a 2011 study in California found 14 heavy metals in six different sources of bottled natural spring water(1). All concentrations were within federal and state maximum contaminant levels, except for arsenic which exceeded California public health goal levels in all six sources. Seafood like tuna, obtain mercury from the ocean. Cooking foods in iron or aluminum-made cookware might also leech trace amounts onto the food being cooked in them. Some metals are even used therapeutically in medications such as (but not limited to) gold, gallium and lithium. Moreover, dental amalgams made from silver and mercury and prosthetics made from metal alloys may further contribute to exposure. All of these present possible sources of exposure via oral ingestion. The more plant-based foods you consume, the more heavy metals you might be exposed to. The good thing is, the benefits of plant-based foods seem to far outweigh any consequences. Read more here. Non-oral exposure may also occur from common household items containing some of these metals. They include fertilizers, fungicides, batteries, household cleaning agents and lead-based paints. Industrial exposure is more common in adults working in facilities handling metals or near hazardous waste sites and accounts for the majority of heavy metal poisonings throughout human history(2). Fortunately, the body is able to act as a natural buffer to these heavy metals. Read more here.

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