Although still a large percentage of populations are oblivious to it, exposure to heavy metals and metalloids coupled with the inability to effectively excrete these substances from the body, and the damaging effects produced as a result, is a growing concern as more people are becoming increasingly aware of the deleterious nature of these metals.
The harmful impact inherent to these toxic metals is not a new awareness that has recently surfaced, and some metals have had hundreds if not several thousand years of history of application ranging from construction work (lead) to having been deployed by the Romans as a treatment for syphilis (mercury; 1300s-1800s). One of the major product uses for mercury today, however, is deploying it for dental silver amalgam fillings (where mercury constitutes roughly 43-54% of the amalgam compound) which, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has been done for more than 150 years in hundreds of millions of patients. This practice of using dental amalgam in fillings has, for good reason, been banned in 3 countries so far (Norway, Sweden, and Denmark). Despite today’s awareness of heavy metal toxicity, exposure continues to rise in some parts of the world (notably in less developed countries).
A heavy metal can be loosely defined as a metal generally known to act as a contaminant exhibiting toxic effects in living organisms. Cadmium, lead, mercury, nickel, [inorganic] iron, and aluminum are well-known heavy metals.
A metalloid is essentially an element with metal and nonmetal properties, the two most commonly known metalloids being arsenic and antimony.
There are metals – many of which are considered heavy metals – that have no known nutritive value to the human body (e.g. lead, mercury, and cadmium), while there are also trace element [nutrient] metals considered essential to maintenance of health. “Trace elements are minerals needed in small amounts by plants, animals and human beings. There are trace amounts of over sixty-five minerals in our bodies […]. They play a major role in health and are essential in the assimilation and utilization of vitamins and other nutrients. They aid in digestion and provide the catalyst for many hormones, enzymes and essential body functions and reactions. They also aid in replacing electrolytes lost through heavy perspiration or extended diarrhea and protect against toxic reactions and heavy metal poisoning. Current research now proves that human beings should get the required trace elements from their food in a balanced diet, especially fresh fruits and vegetables.” ~ Robert Morse, N.D., from ‘The Detox Miracle Sourcebook’ (p. 83-84)
While heavy metals can have acute fatal effects on people’s physical health, or induce long-term, chronic sickness or emotional and mental instability, this form of toxicity often goes undiagnosed, unrecognized, and is thus left unaddressed.
“Every person on this planet have been subjected to various forms of pollution. The World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledges that environmental pollution is the underlying cause of 80% of all chronic degenerativ diseases, proof has been established as to the causative effect of heavy metals in many neurological conditions, the FDA now warns women of childbearing age (all women above age 18) and children to not eat certain (heavy metal
containing) fish. Yet testing for heavy metal toxicity is not a standard diagnostic procedure. If you are suffering with a chronic degenerative issue, or just don’t feel well and don’t know why, there is enough evidence to suggest that you should make it a priority to find out if you do have high levels of toxic metals and chemicals in your body.” ~ Dr. Gabriel Cousens, M.D., M.D.(H)
Heavy metal toxicity always affects multiple sites and organ systems within the body. What tissues become majorly affected will be dependent upon the specific metal(s) involved as the various metals tend to be polarized to specific parts of the body. How a person is ultimately affected by toxic metals, and what symptoms may be experienced, will, again, come down to the specific metal(s) involved, but also the amount that has entered the person’s system following acute or chronic exposure, age (young children, as an example, will absorb more of the ingested lead into their bodies rendering them increasingly prone to the harmful effects of this element and may compromise
proper neurological development), how sensitive they may be to the metal(s) involved, and their ability to detoxify these metals out of their body.
There is a plethora of ways in which a person can be exposed to the various metal (sources of notable metals outlined below), ranging from diet and supplements to the use of medications, or environmental/occupational exposure (the latter being considered the greatest source of exposure historically).
Aluminum foil and cookware
Canned acidic foods
Medications and drugs (anti-diarrhea agents, hemorrhoid medications, vaginal
Certain marine plants
Drying agents for cotton
Fungicides, herbicides, pesticides and insecticides
Seafood (fish, mussels, oysters)
Fresh water fish
Fungicides and insecticides
Meat (kidney, liver, and poultry)
Seafood (crab, flounder, mussels, oysters and scallops)
Poultry and red meats
Bathtubs (cast iron, porcelain and steel)
Hair dyes and rinses
News print and colored advertisements
Paints from before 1971
Contact lens solution
Dental amalgams and fillings
Freshwater fish (bass, pike and trout)
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
Saltwater fish (halibut, shrimp, snapper, tuna and swordfish) and shellfish
Vaccines (including the flu shot)
Appliances and cooking utensils, stainless steel utensils
Cosmetics and hair products
Dental materials and orthodontic appliances
Food (cocoa, hydrogenated oils, nuts, food grown near industrial areas)
Tobacco and tobacco smoke
Water faucets and pipes
Mercury is a naturally occurring heavy metal that exists in three forms:
1.) Elemental (metallic) Mercury
In its pure elemental state, it is most notably found in thermometers, fluorescent light bulbs, and dental amalgam fillings. It enters the body in vapor form by being breathed in, and can cause devastating harm.
According to the Department of Environmental Conservation: “It easily crosses blood/brain and placental barriers and can enter breast milk. It is a potent neurotoxin that impacts the central nervous system. Some of the neurological effects are: tremors, mood swings, irritability, excessive shyness, insomnia, loss of coordination, slurred
speech, and ‘pins and needles sensation’. Very high exposures can cause kidney effects, respiratory failure, and death.”
NOTE: Dr. Morse doesn’t support the concept of a blood-brain barrier.
2.) Inorganic Mercury
Inorganic mercury (powder or crystal mercury salts), which is formed when mercury (Hg) combines with elements other than carbon, are most commonly found in skin-lightening products or freckle creams. When it is deposited in nature, bacterial processes can convert it into the highly toxic and most common organic form of mercury found in the environment: methylmercury (see organic mercury section below).
According to the Department of Environmental Conservation: “Inorganic mercury is the least toxic of the three forms of mercury. It can damage the GI tract, as well as the kidneys and nervous system. High exposures can lead to skin rashes, dermatitis, mood swings, memory loss, mental disturbance, and muscle weakness.”
3.) Organic Mercury
Organic mercury exists in many forms including dimethylmercury, phenylmercury, ethylmercury and methylmercury, with the latter two being the most common forms we’re exposed to as ethylmercury is found in some vaccine preservatives and antiseptics, while we’re exposed to methylmercury through consumption of freshwater and saltwater fish, shellfish and (even) marine mammals, in which methylmercury has bioaccumulated.
According to the Department of Environmental Conservation:
“Methylmercury crosses blood/brain and placental barriers, which can damage the central nervous system and causes birth defects, neurological problems and developmental delays. Fetuses are the most vulnerable to methylmercury’s toxic effects because studies have shown that chord blood levels are twice as concentrated as maternal blood levels for mercury. Chronic exposure to methylmercury can cause an impairment in vision, speech, walking, hearing, lack of coordination and cause a ‘pins and needles’ sensation. Extreme exposures can lead to death.”
NOTE: Dr. Morse doesn’t support the concept of a blood-brain barrier.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:
“Mercury exposure at high levels can harm the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, and immune system. High levels of methylmercury in the bloodstream of unborn babies and young children may harm the developing nervous system, making the child less able to think and learn”