About Heavy Metal Poisoning

When people think of poisoning, they assume that a substance will have an immediate and dramatic consequence on the body; however, many people who have dangerous levels of lead and mercury in their bodies don’t even know it.

Lead and mercury are neurotoxins that can accumulate in the body and cause chronic physical and mental problems. Exposure to lead and mercury is particularly damaging to young childrens’ developing nervous systems. Children under 5 years old and fetuses exposed to small amounts of lead or mercury often develop severe mental disabilities. Lead is known to cause mental retardation, and mercury pollution may be involved in the dramatic increase of children with autism.

Lead and mercury poisoning is common. These dangerous elements are found in our environment, our homes and our food. And since they are base-elements, they don’t break down. Farmers used to add lead and mercury to the soil as an insecticide and fungicide. Food grown in contaminated soil has been shown to have dangerously high levels of these elements.

And the problem continues. Lead TOXYStock1plumbing solder was used until the mid 1980s and faucets containing high levels of lead were manufactured through the 1990s. Lead paint has been outlawed in the United States for more than 30 years, but the soil around old buildings is often contaminated by lead-based paints from years past. When older homes are remodeled, lead paint dust can contaminate carpets and furniture.

Mercury is still used as a preservative in some vaccines (you should request mercury-free vaccines when you visit the doctor.) Mercury is also released every day from coal burning power plants and factories. This pollution accumulates in our nation’s waterways, where it enters the food chain. Mercury pollution is so bad that 48 states have health warnings about eating fish from certain lakes, rivers and streams. And commercially available fish is not necessarily safer. Tuna, mackerel, tilefish, swordfish and shark all contain high levels of mercury. Pregnant women, nursing mothers and children under 5 should avoid eating these fish.

Lead and mercury are so prevalent that everyone has some level of lead and mercury in their body. The question is how much? Testing is the only way to be sure that you and your family are within the safe levels identified by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

To be safe you should check your whole family for both lead and mercury exposure.

The following people are at high risk:

  • Children under 5 years old – lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), cadmium (Cd), and arsenic (As)
  • Children with developmental delays – lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), cadmium (Cd), and arsenic (As)
  • Children who live in an older home – lead (Pb)
  • Children who live in homes that contain antiques – lead (Pb)
  • Expectant and nursing mothers – lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), cadmium (Cd), and arsenic (As)
  • Family members who eat a lot of fish – mercury (Hg)
  • Families who have a member working in certain industries – lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), cadmium (Cd), and arsenic (As)
  • Anyone who has a hobby that deals with lead, such as hunting or sport shooting – lead (Pb)