Heavy metal poisoning is generally very rare in the United States. However, it’s still important to know what it is, how it happens, and what symptoms to look for in case you suffer exposure. Some metals occur naturally in the environment and our bodies, like zinc and iron. Others are toxic byproducts that can be dangerous even in small amounts. Here’s what you should know about heavy metal poisoning.
What Is Heavy Metal Poisoning?
Heavy metal poisoning is the buildup of heavy metals in toxic amounts in the soft tissues of the body. Certain poisonous metals are called the RCRA’s 8 metals. These include common poisons like arsenic, lead, and mercury. Even in small concentrations, these metals are extremely dangerous and thus heavily regulated.
How Heavy Metal Poisoning Happens
This is very important to know about heavy metal poisoning. People use heavy metals in many industries, such as agriculture and medicine. Because of that, they can sometimes leech into the food you eat. They can also contaminate some vaccines and medicines, and even pollute the air we breathe or water we drink. But you will only experience heavy metal poisoning if you suffer a significant amount of exposure. It also depends on the metal’s form. For instance, lead-based paint on the walls is not inherently dangerous, but if it’s chipping, flaking, crushed, or crumbling into dust, it can become hazardous.
Symptoms and Repercussions
It depends on the metal, but some symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, chills, shortness of breath, abdominal pain, vomiting, tingling in your hands and feet, and weakness. Children and babies in the womb are especially vulnerable to heavy metal poisoning. Kids may exhibit behavioral abnormalities, have trouble focusing and retaining information, or have unusually formed or weakened bones. Pregnant women could also have a miscarriage or deliver prematurely if exposed to heavy metals during pregnancy.