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Symptoms 2023

Heavy metals: what they are and symptoms of intoxicationção

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Heavy metals: what they are and symptoms of intoxicationção
Heavy metals: what they are and symptoms of intoxicationção

Heavy metals are chemical elements that, in their pure form, are solid and that can be toxic to the body when consumed, causing damage to various organs of the body, such as lungs, kidneys, stomach and even brain.

Although some heavy metals, such as copper, are important to the body to some extent, others such as mercury or arsenic can be very toxic and should be avoided. These metals are often present in contaminated water and, therefore, can end up contaminating the air and also food, causing he alth problems over the years.

Heavy metals do not cause symptoms when they first come into contact with the body, however, they have the ability to accumulate inside the body's cells, causing problems such as kidney changes, brain injuries and there is suspicion that they may also increase the risk of cancer.

See how you can avoid contact with heavy metals.

Symptoms of the 6 main poisonings

The 6 heavy metals that are most dangerous to he alth are mercury, arsenic, lead, barium, cadmium and chromium. Depending on the type of metal that accumulates in the body, symptoms can vary:

1. Lead poisoning

Lead poisoning is often difficult to identify, and even apparently he althy people can have high levels of lead in the body. However, as it builds up in the body, lead appears to cause:

  • Pain in joints and muscles;
  • Increased blood pressure;
  • Constant abdominal pain;
  • Memory and concentration difficulties;
  • Anemia with no apparent cause.

In more severe cases, kidney problems, brain problems and even miscarriage in pregnant women or infertility in men may develop.

Where it is found: Lead can be found throughout the environment, including air, water and soil, as it is a metal widely used by the industry to make objects such as batteries, water pipes, paint or gasoline, for example.

How to avoid contamination: you should avoid having objects with this type of metal in your home, especially in plumbing or wall paint.

2. Arsenic Poisoning

Arsenic is a type of heavy metal that can cause:

  • Nausea, vomiting and severe diarrhea;
  • Headache and dizziness;
  • Change in heart rate;
  • Constant tingling in hands and feet.

These symptoms may appear within 30 minutes. However, when the amounts are very low, this metal slowly accumulates in the body and, in these cases, there is also a very increased risk of cancer of the skin, lungs, liver or bladder.

Where it is found: can be found in paints, dyes, medicines, soaps, as well as fertilizers and pesticides. In addition, arsenic can also be found in water from private wells that are not regularly tested and disinfected by the Water and Sewerage Company - CDAE.

How to avoid contamination: it is advised not to use materials that contain this type of metal in their composition and to avoid ingesting foods with dyes or untreated water.

3. Mercury poisoning

Mercury contamination of the body usually causes signs such as:

  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Constant diarrhea;
  • Frequent feeling of anxiety;
  • Tremors;
  • Increased blood pressure.

Long term, poisoning by this type of metal can also cause kidney and brain problems, as well as changes in vision, hearing and memory problems.

Where it is present: contaminated water, direct contact with mercury, contact with the inside of light bulbs or batteries and some dental treatments.

How to avoid contamination: do not consume water or food that appears to be contaminated, as well as change all objects that have mercury in their composition, especially thermometers and old light bulbs.

Better understand what happens in the body when it is contaminated with mercury.

4. Barium poisoning

Barium is a type of heavy metal that does not cause cancer, however it can cause symptoms such as:

  • Vomiting;
  • Abdominal cramps and diarrhea;
  • Difficulty breathing;
  • Muscle weakness.

In addition, some people may also experience a progressive increase in blood pressure.

Where it is present: some types of fluorescent lamps, fireworks, paints, bricks, ceramic pieces, glass, rubber and even some diagnostic tests.

How to avoid contamination: avoid going to construction sites without a protective mask to avoid inhaling or ingesting dust contaminated with barium.

5. Cadmium poisoning

Cadmium ingestion can cause:

  • Stomach ache;
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Diarrhea.

Over time, ingestion or inhalation of this metal can cause kidney disease, lung problems, and weakened bones.

Where it is found: in all types of soil or rocks, as well as coal, mineral fertilizers, batteries and plastics from some toys.

How to avoid contamination: do not use materials that contain this type of metal in their composition and avoid smoking, as cigarettes contain charcoal that facilitates contact between cadmium and lungs.

6. Chromium poisoning

The main form of chromium poisoning is due to inhalation. When this happens, symptoms such as:

  • Nose irritation;
  • Difficulty breathing;
  • Asthma and constant cough.

In the long term, permanent damage to the liver, kidneys, circulatory system and skin can occur.

Where it is present:chrome is used to make stainless steel, cement, paper and rubber objects and, therefore, can be easily inhaled in construction sites or during burning paper or rubber, for example.

How to avoid contamination: you should only go to construction sites with a mask and avoid burning paper or rubber.

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