Heavy Metals Articles : their occurrence, their absorption into the organism and their effect on human
Literature: Perger, F.: Kompendium der Regulationspathologie und –Therapie, Johannes Sonntag Publishing House, Munich 1990.
Whereas copper is an essential trace mineral in very small quantities, it is toxic in higher concentrations. In case of suppressed regulation of copper levels, e.g. following liver disease or in infants and small children, severe chronic poisoning may occur as a consequence of long term intake of copper ions. Copper may be absorbed from drinking water from copper pipes as well as from cooking ware and from contraceptive intrauterine devices. Frequently, copper elimination levels in urine equal copper concentration levels in the blood.
Elevated copper levels in the serum and therefore increased urinary elimination of copper can be found not only in case of poisoning, but also in the presence of rheumatic diseases, tumors, and liver and kidney diseases. Levels may also be higher after intake of the oral contraceptive pill. It is essential to investigate the reason for any elevated copper elimination levels.
Zinc is also a trace mineral which is required at a certain concentration range by enzymes and cells of the immune system in the body. Both excessive zinc levels and zinc deficiencies in the blood cause dysfunctions. Either may be the reason for zinc elimination in urine. If for example the body needs zinc in higher quantities for wound healing processes, the higher processing level (generation and elimination) of the involved enzymes and proteins may result in elevated elimination levels such as in case of zinc poisoning.
Evidence of higher zinc levels in urine as a result of the application of the Heavy Metal Screen Test (HMST) is evidently a sign of either poisoning or disease and, except in case of a simple inflammation, must be further investigated.
Cadmium is beside mercury one of the most dangerous heavy metals, with its carcinogenic effects undisputed. These effects concern especially our kidneys, liver, prostate and lungs. Smokers are at great risk to develop elevated cadmium levels. Cadmium poisoning can also cause anemia and osteoporosis.
Cadmium can be found in nickel-cadmium-batteries and synthetic materials, the incineration of the latter in waste incineration plants causing the cadmium to get into the air and water. The combustion of brown coal also causes high cadmium emissions. Cadmium can also be found in the food chain, e.g. in seafood and hydrogenated fats etc. Evidence of urinary elimination of cadmium should therefore result in immediate therapy and further blood testing.
Mercury in the human body is not solely absorbed from dental amalgam fillings, but also from food such as fatty fish and mussels which often contain mercury. Damage caused by chronic mercury poisoning is nowadays generally recognized; therefore, the German health authorities followed the example set by other countries and prohibited the use of amalgam, at least for pregnant women.
Mercury has a high neurotoxic effectiveness, the consequences of which are detectable in the entire human body. Through the blood-brain barrier, it penetrates the brain tissue and may cause severe damage to the pituitary. Consequently, this may interfere with the hormonal regulation system which in turn can cause infertility. It is very probable that damage to the immune system (immune depression) caused by mercury also encourages development of tumors. Since mercury also penetrates the placenta barrier in the womb, it may cause severe damage in the fetus.
Evidence of mercury in urine therefore has to be taken very seriously.
Clinical symptoms of chronic mercury contamination are most noticeable at the mental or psychological level – concentration and memory retention problems, depression, aggressiveness and jumpiness and occasionally intense tremors.
The frequency of chronic infections of the upper respiratory tract, in particular the nose and sinuses proves the effects mercury contamination has on the immune system. Frequently, severe dysbiosis of the colon is diagnosed. Occasionally, there is an impact on other organs where the symptoms may not so easily be correlated with mercury contamination in the presence of other pollutions.
In fact, the impact of heavy metals always consists in obstruction of enzymatic functions.
In the case of lead intoxication, lead binds with enzymes and other proteins such as components of our genetic substance. Neurotoxic effects caused by lead binding with phospholipids in the neural membranes can be determined frequently. Lead poisoning causes damage to male and female fertility. Since mercury also penetrates the placenta barrier in the womb, it may cause severe damage in the fetus. Children, with whom higher lead contamination levels were established, have been diagnosed with lower IQ levels, restlessness, higher levels of distraction and learning difficulties.
Lead is primarily absorbed through both air and food. Lead from gasoline will also continue contributing noticeably to adverse long term effects of chronic lead contamination.
Caution should be exercised when using newly installed copper and/or zinc water pipes or old lead couplings.
Nickel is a trace mineral and also highly toxic. Risk of nickel poisoning is higher for workers in metal processing industries. Nickel is used as a component in high quality steel and other technical nickel alloys as well as for articles of daily use such as belt buckles, buttons, jewellery, nickel coins, batteries (nickel-cadmium) and in the glass- and ceramic industry. Even cocoa and tea contain higher percentages of nickel. Absorption of nickel from inhaling cigarette smoke is part of the lung cancer risk for smokers.
In the human body, nickel can be found in the ribs, cerebellum, kidneys, liver and thyroid glands. In the embryo, higher nickel concentrations are present especially at the stage of the third and fourth months of pregnancy. Frequently, nickel with its alloys and numerous other compounds cause a heightened sensitivity in the human organism, so that frequent contact may result in nickel allergies of the skin (dermatitis). The chronic toxicity of metallic and ionic nickel is enormous and certainly carcinogenic.
The biochemical function of manganese in the human body is varied. Manganese is essential as a co-factor for numerous enzymes in the cellular metabolism. In particular, manganese plays a vital part in the carbohydrate and lipid metabolism.
Both manganese deficiencies and manganese poisoning can cause damage to humans. Chronic manganese intoxication often affects workers in general construction and in the cement, steel and iron processing industries. Manganese is also a component of glass- and ceramic paint and wood varnishes; it is used in the production of fungicides, fertilizers, rubber products and in electric welding. It is also an element of the earth crust. Therefore, it is invariably present in the ground water.
Humans with high exposure to manganese frequently suffer from asthma and chronic bronchitis (immune biological weakness of the immune system). Symptoms of chronic manganese poisoning initially show as neurosis or psychosis (absent-mindedness, mood swings, delusions, hallucinations etc.).
In general, you should consider that heavy metals play a large part (60-80%) in the evolution of diseases. If there is evidence of heavy metal contamination, the implementation of a detoxification therapy is strongly advised.