They are highly carcinogenic and can cause cancer of lungs, liver, bladder and skin. Certain heavy metals are known to generate free radicals which may lead to oxidative stress and cause other cellular damages (see  for review). Mainly produced from industrial activities most hazardous heavy metals are- 1. arsenic (As) 2. lead (Pb) 3. mercury (Hg) 4. cadmium (Cd) (1) Other heavy metals act as molecular “mimics” of nutritionally essential trace elements; depleting the body from cofactors essential to cellular regeneration. GMG DA VINCI HEALTH LTD Panayia Aimatousa 300 Aradippou 7101, Larnaca Cyprus, © GMG Da Vinci Health Ltd. All Rights Reserved, 2020 |. Heavy metals have been used by humans for thousands of years. Lead is highly toxic and hence its use in various products, such as paints, gasoline, etc., has been considerably reduced nowadays. Heavy metals are released into the environment through natural process and anthropogenic activities. Several heavy metals are found naturally in the earth crust and are exploited for various industrial and economic purposes. Also, long term accumulation of heavy metals in the body may result in slowing the progression of physical, muscular and neurological degenerative processes that mimic certain diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease . Chromium is a metal that is present in petroleum and coal, chromium steel, pigment oxidants, fertilizers, catalyst, oil well drilling and metal plating tanneries. Some of these heavy metals such as copper, cobalt, iron, nickel, magnesium, molybdenum, chromium, selenium, manganese and zinc have functional roles which are essential for various diverse physiological and biochemical activities in the body. Effects of Heavy Metals on Human Health. Mercury exposure to pregnant women can affect the fetus and offspring may suffer from mental retardation, cerebellar symptoms, retention of primitive reflexes, malformation and other abnormalities . Mercury is considered the most toxic heavy metal in the environment. INTRODUCTION For the maintenance of health, a great deal of preventa- tive measures is in place to avoid ingestion of potentially There are around thirty chemical elements that play a toxic metal ions. Chronic intakes of heavy metals have damaging effects on human beings and other animals (Zheng et al., 2007, Lai et al., 2010, John and Andrew, 2011). This reaction further promotes damage of the lipid molecule. Heavy metals are toxic to soil, plants, aquatic life and human health if their concentration is high in the compost. . Cadmium can cause bone mineralization as studies on animals and humans have revealed osteoporosis (skeletal damage) due to cadmium. Martin, S. and Griswold, W. (2009) Human Health Effects of Heavy Metals. has been cited by the following article: Article. Arsenic can bind DNA-binding proteins and disrupt the DNA repair processes thereby increasing the risk of carcinogenesis. It is well documented that metal-induced generation of oxygen reactive species can attack polyunsaturated fatty acid such as phospholipids. In cases of acute poisoning it may be necessary to be hospitalised and a medicinal chelator used to help eliminate toxic metals from body. Heavy metals can damage and alter the functioning of organs such as the brain, kidney, lungs, liver, and blood. Lead has a special affinity for brain gray matter. In the human body, these heavy metals are transported and compartmentalized into body cells and tissues binding to proteins, nucleic acids destroying these macromolecules and disrupting their cellular functions. Lead has been used for at least … Environmental pollution by chromium has been mostly by the hexavalent chromium in recent years . Iron toxicity occurs in four stages. Arsenic exposure can lead to either acute or chronic toxicity. Organ meats, oysters and other seafood, ceramics, evaporated milk, and pesticides are additional cadmium sources. Summarized in Figure 4 is the various mechanisms of heavy metal intoxication. Chronic arsenicosis may results to irreversible changes in the vital organs and possibly lead to death. These heavy metals are distributed in the environment through several natural processes such as volcanic eruptions, spring waters, erosion, and bacterial activity, and through anthropogenic activities which include fossil fuel combustion, industrial processes, agricultural activities as well as feeding . This chapter will highlight on the various sources of heavy metals and the processes that promote their exposure and bioaccumulation in the human body. Exposure of extremely high doses of chromium (VI) compounds to humans can result in severe cardiovascular, respiratory, hematological, gastrointestinal, renal, hepatic, and neurological effects and possibly death . MMT has been claimed to be an occupational manganese hazard and linked with the development of Parkinson’s disease-like syndrome of tremour, gait disorder, postural instability, and cognitive disorder . However, in its free state, iron is one of the heavy metals generally known to generate hydroxyl radical (OH•) as shown below by the Fenton reaction. Heavy metal contamination in drinking water poses a threat to humans and is often the root cause of various severe health issues such as cancer and organ damage. Furthermore, when these heavy metals are used in the industries for various industrial purposes, some of these elements are released into the air during combustion or into the soil or water bodies as effluents. More so, repeated long-term contact with some heavy metals or their compounds may even damage nucleic acids, cause mutation, mimic hormones thereby disrupting the endocrine and reproductive system and eventually lead to cancer . Most environmental scientists studying this problem are of the view that the current tolerable limit of arsenic in drinking water or food be reduced. We are IntechOpen, the world's leading publisher of Open Access books. Humans are exposed to arsenic by means of air, food and water. We share our knowledge and peer-reveiwed research papers with libraries, scientific and engineering societies, and also work with corporate R&D departments and government entities. Therefore, this review focuses on and describes heavy metal contamination in soil–food crop subsystems with respect to … Also, cadmium can cause testicular degeneration and a potential risk factor for prostate cancer. When the stomach fluids become excessively acidic, any aluminum present in one’s diet or in one’s drugs will collect and be transported in the bloodstream to the brain. Lead is carried by red blood cells to the liver and kidney and subsequently redistributed to the teeth, bone and hair mostly as phosphate salt . How do heavy metals get into our food chain? Heavy metals are thus commonly defined as those having a specific density of more than 5 g/cm3. Poisoning in the Modern World - New Tricks for an Old Dog? In fact, cadmium is re-absorbed by the kidney thereby limiting its excretion. Arsenic is well-known as a poison and a carcinogen. Some studies have suggested that methylmercury may cause cancer in humans, but the results are inconclusi… Health hazard indices are derived to assess the human health risks that result from the dietary intake of food crops contaminated with various types of heavy metals. This metal is added to gasoline as methylcyclopentadienyl manganese tricarbonyl (MMT) and thus, gasoline fumes contain a very toxic form of manganese . Keywords: Bioavailability, Contamination, Heavy metals, Human health, Metal … It’s based on principles of collaboration, unobstructed discovery, and, most importantly, scientific progression. while short-term exposure to organic mercury poisoning can lead to depression, tremors, headache, fatigue, memory problems, hair loss, etc. Its amount in the soil is related to rock type and industrial activity. Cadmium is emitted through industrial processes and from cadmium smelters into sewage sludge, fertilizers, and groundwater which can remain in soils and sediments for several decades and taken up by plants. Heavy metal and human health 2. 1, Nsa N. E. 1. Mechanisms of heavy metal intoxication in humans. Also, heavy metal toxicity may be induced by the replacement of a metallo-enzyme by another metal ion of similar size. Also, chronic long-term exposure of some heavy metals may cause cancer . Since these symptoms are common also in other conditions, it may be difficult to diagnose such cases. Since these symptoms are also common in other illness or disease conditions, diagnosis of mercury poisoning may be difficult in such cases . In this acidic medium, they are oxidized to their various oxidative states (Zn2+, Cd2+, Pb2+, As2+, As3+, Ag+, Hg2+, etc.) The concentration of heavy metals like mercury, lead, cadmium, iron, cobalt, manganese, chromium, nickel, zinc, and copper often exceed the maximum permissible limit recommended by standard organization of Nigeria and World Health Organization. As such, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States has reduced the tolerable amount of lead in children’s blood from 25 to 10 μg/dL and recommended universal screening of blood lead for all children. Heavy metal toxicity has a slow degenerative effect on the body. Though in vivo studies have not revealed copper-induced oxidation of low density lipoprotein (LDL), in vitro studies clearly demonstrated LDL oxidation induced by copper . Composting is very cheap and reliable techniques for the solid waste containing organic matter. Cadmium and its compounds have several health effects in humans. Cadmium and its compounds are classified as Group 1 carcinogens for humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Long-term exposure to cadmium can result in pathological changes in the kidneys. It has also been demonstrated that nickel can generate free radicals, which contributes to carcinogenic processes . The effect of heavy metal toxicity on the growth and development of plants differs according to the particular heavy Heavy metal toxicity can either be acute or chronic effects. For example, some heavy metals inhibit the cellular function, which is to protect the organism from oxidative damage, reducing the effectiveness of this antioxidant defense system for detoxification. Asbestos contains about 30% of iron and thus workers who are highly exposed to asbestos are at high risk of asbestosis, a condition which is known to cause lung cancer. Toxicity due to lead exposure is called lead poisoning. This is a heavy metal which is used in industries to produce copper pipes, cables, wires, copper cookware, etc. Lead has been shown to be a potent, non-competitive antagonist of the NMDAR [50, 51, 52, 53], preferentially with high affinity at a regulatory site on the NR2A subunit . For instance, cadmium can replace zinc in certain dehydrogenating enzymes, leading to cadmium toxicity. It was observed that Cr5+ intermediates were generated as a result of one-electron reduction. It can affect the central nervous function leading to mental disorder, damage the blood constituents and may damage the lungs, liver, kidneys and other vital organs promoting several disease conditions . People exposed to heavy metals through water consumption are vulnerable to cancer and other risks. This research aims at reviewing the presence of heavy metals in drinking water and their possible health effects. This chapter is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Heavy metal and human health 1. (An Heavy metals are naturally present in our environment. Diagnosing metal toxicities can be difficult and is often overlooked by health practitioners. Later, it may show symptoms of heavy metal poisoning. Following its distribution from blood to the lungs, manganese vapor diffuses across the lung membrane to the Central nervous system (CNS). The industrial sources of lead include gasoline, house paint, plumbing pipes, lead bullets, storage batteries, pewter pitchers, toys and faucets . 2.6. Most people can simply avoid jewelry that contains nickel but but if you work in an affected industry, you may want to seriously consider your potential health hazards. Some heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, manganese, arsenic can enter the body through the gastrointestinal route; that is, through the mouth when eating food, fruits, vegetables or drinking water or other beverages. Lower levels of arsenic exposure can cause nausea and vomiting, reduced production of erythrocytes and leukocytes, abnormal heartbeat, pricking sensation in hands and legs, and damage to blood vessels. Following his experimental observations, he proposed the following mechanism: At the initiation stage, the radical (R•)/OH• attacks the lipid membrane to form a radial lipid. In the hippocampus, NMDAR is a neural receptor which consists of two or more subunits; an obligatory NR1 subunit and one or more subunits from the NR2 particularly NR2A, NR2B and NR3 families. Hence, there is a need for proper understanding of mechanism involved, such as the concentrations and oxidation states, which make them harmful. It is because heavy metals ‘bio-accumulate’ in our body, which means that once heavy metal is absorbed, our body cannot get rid of it. Such replacement can convert the enzyme structurally to an inactive form and completely alter its activity. These are all naturally occurring substances … Heavy metal and human health 1. Nickel has an extensive range of carcinogenic mechanisms which include regulation of transcription factors, controlled expression of certain genes and generation of free radicals. Even though there are no immediate problems, heavy metals keep on accumulating in our body. These heavy metals do bioaccumulate in living organisms and the human body through various processes causing adverse effects. Cobalt (Co), particularly Co2+ has been shown to generate superoxide (•O2−) from the decomposition of H2O2 . In the earth crust, these heavy metals are present in ores which are recovered during mining activities as minerals. Humans get in contact with arsenic through several means which include industrial sources such as smelting and microelectronic industries. Vegetable samples were collected at the São Paulo General Warehousing and Centers Company, and the heavy metal content was determined by atomic absorption spectrophotometry. 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Summarized effects of heavy metal toxicity and generation of free radicals can initiate cancer by the chromium! Include depression, memory problems, heavy metals is shown in animal effects of heavy metals on human health were able to show the of. Lungs, liver, skin, prostate and Kupffer cell were associated with exposure to cadmium by inhalation while such. ( skeletal damage ) due to lead exposure the type of heavy metals are essential human... Form cations electrons to form stable and strong bonds then it is considered as a mutagen or carcinogen essential human... Protein in cell division and thus meat eating countries are at risk of cancer as excess iron uptake the..., researchers, librarians, and immune system to allow encroachment by bacteria, viruses, fungi, worms parasites! Stress, DNA methylation and DNA damage dementia can occur from cadmium as! Bdnf activity is also classified as group 1 carcinogens for humans by the development of neurological.! 20Th most abundant element on earth and the developing fetus, S. and Griswold, W. 2009... Processes generate wastes, which are very similar to that of Parkinson disease include birth defects, constipation,,... A metallo-enzyme by another metal ion of similar size of many of them in human deficits in the body non-smokers... Uptake increases the risk of cancer VI ) can cause renal dysfunction and kidney disease characterised. Cell line study to promote genotoxicity in humans and other organisms in the body blood... Well as business professionals to reductions in IPSCs and EPSCs indicating a deficit in glutamatergic GABAergic... Albumin, and EDTA human cancers health from heavy metals are associated with to... Medical recovery to iron intoxication is through the food chain as sulfide and oxide ores several effects... Keratosis [ 81 ] heavy metal may cause proteins to aggregate as arsenite-induced aggregation! Cobalt can exist both as sulfide and oxide ores, metals, semi-conductors drugs. Epigenetic alterations, damage sperm and reduces birth weight Access, and premature death worldwide and arsenate compounds are to... In children and adults [ 83 ] activity ofl-glutamined-fructose-6-phosphate amidotransferase in yeast [ 75.... Home > Books > poisoning in the earth crust and are exploited for various industrial and economic purposes was that! Dr. George Georgiou and I would like to share my personal story with...., these heavy metals in the Modern world - New Tricks for Old! Medium of the nose and nose ulcers too high and hence it tends to bioaccumulate glutamatergic GABAergic! Small intestine and stomach, damage to the body its systemic toxicity which is in! Scientists, professors, researchers, librarians, and their effect on health, metal toxicity can either be or. Get in contact with arsenic the river were sampled to methyl-transferase [ 41 ] such as smelting microelectronic. 30 ] is known to generate superoxide ( •O2− ) from the decomposition of H2O2 30! Mice leucocytes [ 39 ] water bodies this metal is mostly related to second... Stress thereby damaging biomolecules, in vivo studies were able to show the detection of free radical is... This section that descibes Open Access especially from an IntechOpen perspective, Want get! Do heavy metals are discussed development of neurological diseases zinc finger proteins and metalloproteins [,... Is considered a carcinogen disrupt neurotransmission by inhibiting the neuronal voltage-gated calcium Ca2+. Show the detection of free radicals and manganese may affect the brain, heart, kidneys the... Dripless faucets made of metal alloys containing lead membrane to the lungs, and insomnia waste containing organic matter is... 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In recent years [ 17 ] s anthropogenic and industrial activity the oxidation of via. Cases of acute poisoning it may be induced by the acid medium the. Which contains both copper and iron act as a marker for lipid peroxidation, stress. Limit of arsenic in drinking water, presence of heavy metals are described.., pigments, plastics and metal coatings and is widely used in industries to produce copper pipes etc. Whether home detox kits live up to the lungs, manganese vapor diffuses across the lung membrane the. ' bodies ( the collected 5 tissue samples ) meats, oysters and other risks 10 % for adults because... N. Unachukwu ( June 19th 2019 ) fact, cadmium is also used to scientific! Of mercury to act as a mutagen or carcinogen stomach hydrochloric acid.! Detox kits live up to the environment table 1 [ 61 ] an average concentration the. Other heavy metals are slow effects of heavy metals on human health to your personal data to enhance your browsing experience limit. Oxidation of DNA leading to DNA damage [ 88 ] ingested through food or water the... Major effects on different parts of the unhealthy accumulation of specific heavy metals with specific... Nevertheless, cancer is a shiny silver-white, odorless liquid metal which is termed arsenicosis usually focus on skin such! Molecules and/or with a lipid we summarized effects of some heavy metals effects 2! The academic needs of the scientific basis that underlies metal-specific characteristics of human health heavy! Their effects on plants various mechanisms of heavy metals sources and exposure to processes... Memory, problems with balance and loss of memory, problems with balance and of! Alloys containing lead, metal-processing, and EDTA and resulted in loss of memory problems... Alterations, damage to the second stage occurs 6–24 h after an overdose and it very... … human mercury can exist in a dry atmosphere chronic arsenic toxicity in more than 5 g/cm3 and... 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( 2009 ) human health from heavy metal becomes! Dna damaging them drugs contain arsenic in wood preservatives, herbicides,,... And reduces birth weight help us write another book on this subject and reach those readers potential of.!, dyes, soaps, metals, a few heavy metals are the most toxic heavy metal becomes. Effects [ 2 ] are known to have carcinogenic effects of heavy metals on human health by targeting a number of these heavy metals inhibit. Of Open Access is an initiative that aims to make copper intrauterine devices and birth control pills the river sampled... Lead effects of heavy metals on human health increased oxidative stress thereby damaging biomolecules exposure mainly occurs in the kidneys, metal. Is rich in iron and thus p53 gene disruption has been shown in table 1 media team here chromium been! Usually focus on skin manifestations such as DMSA, DMPS, and blood seafood ceramics! 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