10 Ways You’re Being Exposed to Toxic Heavy Metals

by Stacy Facko


We’re all well aware of just how toxic the environment has become, and in turn, how toxic the human body has become.

All you health conscious readers know about the chemical additives in foods, the BPA and other leachable toxins from plastics, the parabens and PEGs in personal care products, and the VOCs from paints, solvents and household cleaning supplies to avoid. But how cognizant are you about your exposure to toxic heavy metals? They’re just as ubiquitous.

While we do need some metals, like zinc, iron and copper, in trace amounts to carry out normal functions in the body, others are quite harmful, even deadly if exposed to too much.

Metals such as mercury, lead, and aluminum are neurotoxins that affect the brain and nervous system, while arsenic, cadmium, and chromium (the hexavalent form, not the kind you get in supplements) are carcinogenic. Some are endocrine disruptors and most are dangerous to developing fetuses and young children in low concentrations.

The human body is equipped with an intricate system to remove toxins and waste products. But not all toxins follow the same circulation pattern to make automatic neutralization and elimination easy.

Heavy metals like to take up residence in fatty tissues rather than circulate in the blood. This means the brain, nervous system, breast issue, bone marrow, liver, and kidneys are susceptible to damage caused by heavy metal toxicity.

If left to accumulate over time, heavy metals can contribute to a number of serious health problems. Heavy metals can alter the elaborate communication system between organs. This short circuiting can lead to various symptoms that are often hard to diagnose correctly, which delays proper treatment.

Heavy metal toxicity has been implicated in:

Alzheimer’s disease DEATH Mental health disorders
Autism Epilepsy Multiple sclerosis
Behavioral problems Joint pain Paralysis
Brain fog Kidney disease Parkinson’s disease
Cardiovascular disease Lyme disease Poor focus/concentration
Cancer Memory loss

Where Does Heavy Metal Exposure Come From?

    1) Air 
    As a result of industrial activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels and metal production, cadmium, lead, and mercury have become common air pollutants. Inhalation of the toxic vapors opens the door to the neurotoxic and carcinogenic effects that can develop with long-term exposure, making individuals working in or living close to fuel or metal production plants more susceptible to increased exposure. The metals dispersed in air can also contaminate waterways and soil as the vapors fall to the ground.

    2) Water 
    It’s no surprise that with all the industrial activity, our drinking water has become contaminated with the waste and by products of civilization, and that includes heavy metals like cadmium, arsenic, chromium 6, lead, copper, and mercury . And don’t count on your local water district to remove these contaminants before it comes out of your tap. The contamination can be introduced after the water leaves the treatment plant. Cadmium can come from corrosion of galvanized pipes, as can lead from old plumbing systems. Drinking and bathing in the contaminated slurry can contribute to kidney and liver damage, intestinal problems, delayed physical and mental development in children, and cancer .

    3) Vaccines
    The topic of vaccines remains a hot issue among those strongly for them and those strongly against them. If you’re OK with vaccinating yourself or your children, be aware of what’s in the concoction. Sometimes they contain heavy metals. Mercury is used as a preservative called thimerosal, which is nearly 50% mercury! You might also find aluminum used to boost immune response to the vaccine. Did you know there can also be some other weird ingredients in vaccines like chick embryo cells, monkey kidney tissue, and mouse serum protein?

    4) Amalgam Dental Fillings
    If you have silver dental fillings, which is the standard, you’re being exposed to mercury every day they’re in your mouth! That’s like sucking on a mercury popsicle that never melts, increasing your risk of Candida overgrowth, ALS, Alzheimer’s, and cancer . The American Dental Association claims amalgam is completely safe even though mercury makes up half of their composition. Amalgam fillings tend to be the greatest source of mercury exposure in adults who have them.

    5) Fluorescent Lightbulbs
    If you’re using compact fluorescent light bulbs at home, be wary of about 5 milligrams of mercury inside each bulb. Mercury gives them the cool burning property that makes them more efficient, but that’s also why you can’t just put a broken or spent one in the garbage. Mercury is an environmental toxin and a neurotoxin in humans. Apply caution when changing and disposing of CFLs, particularly if the bulb is broken because you can be exposed via direct skin contact and mercury vapor.

    6) Antiperspirants
    It’s simple biology at work. The natural release of sweat from your armpits combined with the bacteria on the skin equals body odor. To prevent that, antiperspirants use agents that clog the pores of the skin to prevent sweating. And one commonly used ingredient to stop the sweating is aluminum. But the skin is like a sponge and absorbs whatever’s on it, including metals from your skincare products. Aluminum has been linked to liver disorders and degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, ALS, and Parkinson’s.

    7) Cigarette Smoke
    For us non-smokers, the horrid smell alone is enough to keep us away. We certainly don’t deserve being ambushed by the heavy metal cocktail that can include vaporized aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and lead . If you’re a smoker, you’re breathing in significantly more of the metals than non-smokers in your presence. When inhaled through smoking, heavy metals have a long biological half-life, giving the toxins ample time to accumulate in bones and organs where they can have harmful effects.

    8) Fish
    This in no secret. It’s been known for years that fish swimming in contaminated water accumulate toxins in their bodies. Mercury from the burning of fossil fuels finds its way to the ocean where bacteria in the water convert it to a more toxic form, methylmercury. Plankton eat the bacteria, small fish eat the plankton, big fish eat the small fish, and humans eat the big fish. And it’s not just mercury you need to worry about. Cadmium and lead are problematic too depending on where the fish was caught. Warnings about excessive fish consumption shouldn’t pertain only to pregnant women and young children. You can’t simply cook out the heavy metals!

    9) Agricultural Chemicals 
    Another reason to eat organic! Man-made pesticides can contain arsenic, lead, and mercury among other human and environmental poisons. Some inorganic fertilizers are no better, as liming materials can contain elevated levels of arsenic, cadmium, and lead. And what goes in the soil can be absorbed by the food grown in it. Remember, heavy metals can’t be cooked out during the food prep stage.

    10) Medications
    The use of metals in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals is commonplace. While some metals are harmless, there’s still a presence of mercury being used in the preparation of some medicines. Manufacturers won’t be bold and put mercury in the list of ingredients, so look out for any of the following: thimerosal (TM) , phenylmercuric acetate (PMA), phenylmercuric nitrate (PMN), mercuric acetate (MA), mercuric nitrate (MN), merbromin (MB), or mercuric oxide yellow (MOY). Mercury can be hiding in ointments, contact lens solutions, and nasal sprays.

      How to Limit Your Exposure to Toxic Heavy Metals

      If you’re looking for ways to counteract the barrage of heavy metal exposure, you need to be proactive about getting rid of the accumulated metals in your body and limiting exposure from your environment.

      Do a Heavy Metal Cleanse
      Consider periodic cleansing with metal chelating agents. Other detox methods include oil pulling and trips to the sauna to sweat out the toxins.

      Limit Exposure Whenever Possible 
      Filter your water with an appropriate system for your household. Stop using aluminum cookware. Stop eating fish likely to contain high levels of mercury (fish higher on the food chain like shark, tuna, and swordfish). Filter your household drinking/bathing/washing water for metals, chlorine, and fluoride. Carefully scrutinize your personal care products (lotions, cosmetics, first aid, etc.) and avoid any with metallic ingredients, including deodorants with aluminum. Avoid places with heavy air pollution.

      Be an Informed Consumer
      Know where your food comes from and which are more likely to have higher concentrations of metals. Read labels on personal care products. Find out from your water district what metals are in your water, or have your private well water tested.

      Remove Amalgam Dental Fillings
      Seek a dentist who practices biodentistry for non-metal dental work and safe removal of amalgam fillings.

      Remember, heavy metal toxicity has no clear warning signs of the damage it causes. And because the removal process isn't as easy as other wastes in the body, heavy metals build up over time. Taking proactive steps early can thwart the damage before it's too late.

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