The presence of excessive amounts of many metals in the environment can cause health issues. Exposure to toxic metals can come from environmental pollution, food, using everyday items, occupational exposure or hobbies. A toxic metal in its pure form or as part of a chemical compound can enter the body through the lungs, gastrointestinal tract, and even directly through the skin. Our Toxic Metal Panels test for the most common health hazards such as aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury as well as less common elements whose industrial use is on the rise.
What are some of the health consequences of toxic metal exposure?
Evidence suggests that chronic toxic element exposure can adversely affect:
- Energy levels
- Reproductive function
- Cancer risk
- Neurological development and function
- Respiratory, cardiac, hepatic, and immune functions
- Cognitive and emotional health
- Degenerative conditions
What are the most common sources of occupational exposure to toxic metals?
Toxic metal accumulation can occur in the human body in response to occupational exposures or to environmental exposures from toxins released in air, soil, or industrial waste systems. These sources include:
- Metal refining
- Plating and parts manufacturing in aerospace and machine tool industries
- Fabrication of nuclear reactor fuel assemblies
- Electronics and computer manufacturing – according to the EPA, the US has the largest electronics (including computer) workforce in the world
- Welding and metal shaping
- Oil refining
Military or police service (with weapons use)
- Handling of disposal of wastes
- Manufacturing of pigments and coatings
- Petrochemical production
What is a heavy metal? How can it cause harm to the human body?
The term “heavy metal” is used as a broad term for all metals and semimetals with potential for human or environmental toxicity. Lead, mercury and arsenic are the most common examples of toxic metal exposure.
- Lead is the main cause of childhood heavy metal poisoning so it is important to consider the environment you grew up in. Historically lead was found in paint, pipes and drains in older homes. Today, lead can also be found in plumbing, fuel additives, ammunition, PVC plastics and x-ray shielding. Toxicity affects the bones, kidneys and thyroid.
- Arsenic is a common cause of acute poisoning through heavy metals. It enters the environment through smelting of copper, zinc and lead. It is released through the manufacturing of certain chemicals. Pesticides that contain arsenic, when manufactured, release arsine gas. Arsenic has been found in water supplies around the world, which has the potential to leach into seafood. Arsenic is found in rat poisoning, fungicides and products used to protect wood. Toxicity affects the blood, kidneys, skin, the digestive and central nervous systems.
- Mercury is found in mining operations and the paper industry. Atmospheric mercury is found in rain and in the aquatic food supplies and fish in lakes. Mercury compounds are banned, but some old paints may contain it. Childhood vaccines can contain mercury, and it is also found in thermometers and dental amalgams. It generally enters the body through inhalation. Toxicity targets the brain and kidneys.
What tests are available to detect toxic metal exposure?
Based on your symptoms, exposure risk and occupation our doctor may recommend a urine test, a blood test, or both:
- Comprehensive Toxic Metal Panel, urine (Toxic Element Clearance Profile) offers an advanced, comprehensive assessment of toxic and potentially toxic elements excreted in the urine. Both well-known toxins such as lead and mercury, and new technology toxins such as niobium are assessed in this toxic metal panel. These rare elements are used in medical, aerospace, nuclear, and high-tech electronic industries with increasing frequency because of their growing commercial, industrial, and medical applications.
- Heavy Metals Panel, blood measures the levels of aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury.
How do I prepare for the toxic metal exposure testing?
Please avoid seafood and red wine for 72 hours prior to sample collection.
Where can I read more about toxic metal exposure and its effect on my health?
Here is our article answering common questions about toxic metal exposure in greater detail: https://integrativemdcenter.com/heavy-metals-health/