Occupational Medicine & Health Affairs

ISSN: 2329-6879

Occupational Medicine & Health Affairs
Make the best use of Scientific Research and information from our 700+ peer reviewed, Open Access Journals that operates with the help of 50,000+ Editorial Board Members and esteemed reviewers and 1000+ Scientific associations in Medical, Clinical, Pharmaceutical, Engineering, Technology and Management Fields.
Meet Inspiring Speakers and Experts at our 3000+ Global Conferenceseries Events with over 600+ Conferences, 1200+ Symposiums and 1200+ Workshops on Medical, Pharma, Engineering, Science, Technology and Business

Health Implications of Heavy Metal Overload

Amal El-Safty*
Department of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, Kasr El-Eini Hospital, Cairo University, Egypt
Corresponding Author : Amal El-Safty
Professor and Head of the Department of Occupational & Environmental Medicine
Kasr El-Eini Hospital, Cairo University, Egypt
Tel: 002 01222155184
E-mail: amal_safty@yahoo.com
Received September 28, 2013; Accepted December 27, 2013; Published January 07, 2014
Citation: El-Safty A (2014) Health Implications of Heavy Metal Overload. Occup Med Health Aff 2:145. doi: 10.4172/2329-6879.1000145
Copyright: © 2014 El-Safty A. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Related article at
DownloadPubmed DownloadScholar Google
Visit for more related articles at Occupational Medicine & Health Affairs
Adverse health implications may result from accumulation of Heavy metals’ (HM) overload in human body. The most commonly encountered toxic metals are Arsenic, Lead, Aluminum, Mercury, Cadmium, and Iron. They may enter the body through inhalation, ingestion, or dermal absorption. Exposure to environmental contamination with HM is a growing problem throughout the world that has risen dramatically in the last 50 years as a result of an exponential increase in the use of HM in industrial processes and products.
Recently, exposure to HM particles, even at levels below those known to be nontoxic, can have serious health effects. Virtually, all aspects of animal and human immune system functions are compromised by HM particulates exposure. The highly reactive nature of most metals results in forming complexes with other compounds such oxygen, sulfide and chloride by which they exert their toxicity [1].
With ongoing exposure and internal imbalance, the body starts retaining any metals and using them as a substitute for essential elements. For example, lead can substitute calcium, cadmium very readily substitutes zinc, and aluminum may substitute almost all trace elements. Stored HM are locked into the tissues, serving as place holders for the proper nutrients. Heavy metals disrupt a vast array of metabolic processes, alter pro-oxidant/antioxidant balance, and bind to free sulfhydryl groups, resulting in inhibition of glutathione metabolism, numerous enzymes and hormone function [2]. Nutritionally, HM are directly antagonistic to essential trace elements and compete with nutrient elements for binding sites on transport and storage proteins, metallo-enzymes, and receptors. Disruption of the metabolism and balance of nutrient elements results in marked aberrations in the metabolism of carbohydrate, protein/amino acids, lipids, neurotransmitters, hormones, and increase susceptibility to infections [3].
This can result in damaged or reduced mental and central nervous system’ function by directly influencing neurotransmitter production and utilization. It can lower energy levels through altering numerous metabolic body processes and damage blood composition, liver, kidney, lung, and other vital organs [4]. Concentration of toxic heavy metals can disturb important biochemical processes enhancing oxidative damage which is the key component of chronic inflammatory diseases and initiator of cancer. Mudga et al. in 2010 concluded that based on experimental studies that improved the knowledge of human toxicology, heavy metal exposure results in developmental, several types of cancer, kidney damage, endocrine disruption, immunological and neurological disorders [5].
Long-term exposure may result in slowly progressive physical, muscular, and neurological degenerative processes. Heavy metal overload in the adrenal glands reduces the production of hormones, which cause early aging, stress, decreased sex drive and aggravation of menopausal symptoms. It can also lead to unresponsiveness of diabetics to their medications. In addition, it can lead to neurological diseases such as depression and loss of thinking power. Also aggravate conditions such as osteoporosis and hypothyroidism [6]. For obvious reasons, removing metals from the body safely has been a concern of occupational medicine specialists for many years and recently environmental medicine physicians.
In addition, toxic metals can increase allergic reactions, cause genetic mutation, compete with trace metals for biochemical bond sites, and act as antibiotics, killing beneficial bacteria. Much of the damage produced by toxic metals stems from the proliferation of oxidative free radicals they cause. Heavy metals can also increase the acidity of the blood. The body draws calcium from the bones to help restore the proper blood pH. Furthermore, toxic metals set up conditions that lead to inflammation in arteries and tissues, causing more calcium to be drawn to the area as a buffer. That contributes to hardening of the artery walls with progressive blockage of the arteries and osteoporosis. The overall vascular effects include oxidative stress, inflammation, thrombosis, vascular smooth muscle dysfunction, endothelial dysfunction, dyslipidemia, immune dysfunction, and mitochondrial dysfunction. The clinical consequences include hypertension, coronary heart disease; myocardial infarction, atherosclerosis, and renal dysfunction with proteinuria [7]. These metallic elements are also classified as human carcinogens (known or probable) according to the US Environmental Protection Agency and the International Agency for Research on Cancer [8].
Even minute levels of toxic elements have negative health consequences, affecting nutritional status, metabolic rate, and the integrity of detoxification pathways. For adults, silent symptoms of chronic, low level heavy metal accumulation in tissues can progress from a steady decline in energy, productivity and quality of life to accelerated cardiovascular disease, premature dementia and total debilitation. Chronic symptoms frequently associated with excessive accumulation of HM include fatigue, musculoskeletal pain, neurological disorders, depression, failing memory, and allergic hypersensitivity.
Diagnosing HM overload can be reached through complete medical history, including occupation, hobbies, recreational activities, and environment. An occasional history of ingestion often facilitates the diagnosis, particularly in children. Physical examination findings will vary according age, sex and health status of the individual, dose or form of the metal present, and time lapse since exposure.
Testing for toxic metals in biological fluids such as blood, urine or hair will give a clue for the diagnosis of arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury overload. Provocative Challenge tests using 6- or 24-hour urine collection after receiving oral chelating agents may be used to mobilize toxic elements in the body and determining urinary toxic element levels in the collected urine. In addition, hair analysis can be used as a general screening test for the presence of HM. Kidney function should be assessed before starting chelation therapy.
Heavy metal toxicity is one of the most difficult conditions to treat in modern medicine. Treatment regimens for HM toxicity can vary significantly and should be tailored specifically to an individual’s age, exposure, and medical condition. A protocol involving diet, nutritional balance and gentle detoxification has helped many to recover both physical and mental health.
Conventional and alternative medical treatments include chelation therapy, supportive care, and decontamination. Follow-up laboratory testing is required until metal levels are within the normal reference range, particularly when the exposure was acute or the person continues to have symptoms after treatment.

Select your language of interest to view the total content in your interested language
Post your comment
Share This Article
Relevant Topics
Disc A Healthcare Advertising
Disc Addiction
Disc Adolescence
Disc Advanced Bleeding Gums
Disc Advanced Receeding Gums
Disc Advances in Biosafety Cabinet Classes
Disc Advances in Health Care Technology
Disc Advances in health care
Disc Adverse Health Effects
Disc Ambulatory Care safety
Disc Applied Biosafety
Disc Applied Ergonomics
Disc Applied Medical Informatics
Disc Bioethics and Biosafety
Disc Biological Safety
Disc Biomedical Informatics
Disc Biomedical Lab Biosafety
Disc Biosafety Management
Disc Biosafety Risk Assessment
Disc Bleeding Gums
Disc Cancer Informatics
Disc Child Health Education
Disc Children Care
Disc Chronic Disease
Disc Clinical Informatics
Disc Clinical Laboratory Safety
Disc Communicable Diseases
Disc Community Based Nursing
Disc Community Health
Disc Community Health Nursing
Disc Community Health Nursing Care
Disc Community Healthcares
Disc Community Nursing
Disc Community Nursing Care
Disc Community Nursing Diagnosis
Disc Community Nursing Intervention
Disc Community Occupational Medicine
Disc Consolidated Health Informatics
Disc Construction Safety
Disc Consumer Health Informatics
Disc Core Functions Of Public Health Nursing
Disc Coronal Fracture
Disc Cross-Sectional Study
Disc Dental Anestheia and Sedation
Disc Dental Ergonomics
Disc Dental Health Education
Disc Dental Informatics
Disc Dental Plaque
Disc Dental Radiology
Disc Dentistry and Diabetes
Disc Diabetes-Mellitus
Disc Disorders and Treatments
Disc Driver Safety
Disc Drug Safety
Disc Education
Disc Emergency Nursing
Disc Emerging Diseases
Disc Ergonomics Softwares
Disc Ethical issues in Health care
Disc Family Medicine
Disc Family Nursing
Disc Food Safety Management
Disc Future of health care
Disc Genetic Factors
Disc Geriatric Nursing
Disc Global Health Bioethics
Disc Global Health Research
Disc Global Health safety
Disc Good Clinical Practice
Disc Gum Cancer
Disc Gum Infection
Disc Health Care Informatics
Disc Health Care Records
Disc Health Care System
Disc Health Effects
Disc Health Equity
Disc Health Hazard
Disc Health Information Management
Disc Health Insurances like
Disc Health Policy
Disc Health Professional
Disc Health Promotion Practice
Disc Health Risk
Disc Health Robust
Disc Health administration
Disc Health care communications
Disc Health care databases
Disc Health care economics
Disc Health care equipment
Disc Health care finance
Disc Health care innovation
Disc Health care insurance
Disc Health care insurance business
Disc Health care legislation
Disc Health care market analysis
Disc Health care products and market analysis
Disc Health care software’s
Disc Health care statistics
Disc History Of Public Health Nursing
Disc Holistic Health Education
Disc Hospital Informatics/ Pharmacy Informatics
Disc Hospital Safety
Disc Human Factors
Disc Human Health Safety
Disc Hygiene
Disc Industrial Ergonomics
Disc Industrial Hygiene
Disc Infections
Disc Laboratory Safety Standards
Disc Medical Device Safety
Disc Medical Safety
Disc Medical-Diagnosis
Disc Mental Health Education
Disc Mental Health Informatics
Disc Methods in Medical Informatics
Disc Microbiological Biosafety
Disc Midwifery
Disc Mortality Rate
Disc Musculoskeletal Disorders
Disc Nurse Practitioner
Disc Nurse Practitioner Updates
Disc Nursing
Disc Nursing Education
Disc Nursing Ethics
Disc Nursing Health Education
Disc Nursing Public Health
Disc Nursing Standards
Disc Nursing Theories
Disc Nutrition Education
Disc Nutrition Policies
Disc Obstetric Nursing
Disc Occlusal Splint
Disc Occupational Dermatitis
Disc Occupational Disorders
Disc Occupational Ergonomics
Disc Occupational Exposures
Disc Occupational Health and Safety
Disc Occupational Medicine
Disc Occupational Physical Therapy
Disc Occupational Rehabilitation
Disc Occupational Standards
Disc Occupational Therapist Practice
Disc Occupational Therapy
Disc Occupational Therapy Devices & Market Analysis
Disc Occupational Therapy Education
Disc Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Disc Oncology Nursing
Disc Oral Health Education
Disc Oral Hygiene Blogs
Disc Oral Hygiene Case Reports
Disc Oral Hygiene Practice
Disc Oral Leukoplakia
Disc Oral Surgery Special Issue
Disc Oral-Health Education
Disc Orthodontistry
Disc Orthopedic Nursing
Disc Paediatric Occupational Therapy
Disc Pediatric Nursing Care
Disc Periodontistry
Disc Physical Ergonomics
Disc Population Health
Disc Prenatal-Care
Disc Prevalence
Disc Primary Care Sports Medicines
Disc Primary Care internal Medicine
Disc Primary Health Care
Disc Processed Food
Disc Psychiatric Nursing
Disc Public Health Nursing
Disc Public Health Policy
Disc Public Health Safety
Disc Recreation Therapy
Disc Risk Analysis
Disc Risk Factors
Disc Risk Factors And Burnout And Public Health Nursing
Disc Risk Factors and Burnout and Public Health Nursing
Disc Root Canal Treatment
Disc Safety Programs
Disc Safety at Work Place
Disc Sensory Integration Therapy
Disc Sexual Violence
Disc Social & Preventive Medicine
Disc Social Service
Disc Sound Ergonomics
Disc Statistical Significance
Disc Thyroxines
Disc Travel Nursing
Disc User Experience Design
Disc Veterinary Nurse
Disc Women and Child Health
Disc Women's Healthcare
Disc Work Related Disorders
Recommended Journals
Disc Oral Hygiene & Health
Disc Nursing and Health Sciences
Disc Nursing & Care
Disc Community & Public Health Nursing
Disc Health & Medical Informatics
Disc Health Education Research & Development
Disc Primary Healthcare
Disc Health Care
Disc Health Systems and Policy Research
Disc Diversity & Equality in Health and Care
Disc Public Health and Safety
Disc Medical Safety & Global Health
Disc Industrial Pollution Control
Disc Journal of Community Medicine & Health Education
Disc Journal of Ergonomics
  View More»
Recommended Conferences
Disc 10th International Conference on Nursing and Healthcare
December 05-07, 2016 Dallas, USA
Disc 5th International Conference and Exhibition on Occupational Health andSafety
June 06-07,2016 Dallas, USA
View More»
Article Tools
Disc Export citation
Disc Share/Blog this article
Article usage
  Total views: 11938
  [From(publication date):
February-2014 - Oct 24, 2016]
  Breakdown by view type
  HTML page views : 8147
  PDF downloads :3791

Post your comment

captcha    Reload  Can't read the image? click here to refresh

OMICS International Journals
Make the best use of Scientific Research and information from our 700 + peer reviewed, Open Access Journals
OMICS International Conferences 2016-17
Meet Inspiring Speakers and Experts at our 3000+ Global Annual Meetings

Contact Us

Agri, Food, Aqua and Veterinary Science Journals

Dr. Krish


1-702-714-7001 Extn: 9040

Clinical and Biochemistry Journals

Datta A


1-702-714-7001Extn: 9037

Business & Management Journals



1-702-714-7001Extn: 9042

Chemical Engineering and Chemistry Journals

Gabriel Shaw


1-702-714-7001 Extn: 9040

Earth & Environmental Sciences

Katie Wilson


1-702-714-7001Extn: 9042

Engineering Journals

James Franklin


1-702-714-7001Extn: 9042

General Science and Health care Journals

Andrea Jason


1-702-714-7001Extn: 9043

Genetics and Molecular Biology Journals

Anna Melissa


1-702-714-7001 Extn: 9006

Immunology & Microbiology Journals

David Gorantl


1-702-714-7001Extn: 9014

Informatics Journals

Stephanie Skinner


1-702-714-7001Extn: 9039

Material Sciences Journals

Rachle Green


1-702-714-7001Extn: 9039

Mathematics and Physics Journals

Jim Willison


1-702-714-7001 Extn: 9042

Medical Journals

Nimmi Anna


1-702-714-7001 Extn: 9038

Neuroscience & Psychology Journals

Nathan T


1-702-714-7001Extn: 9041

Pharmaceutical Sciences Journals

John Behannon


1-702-714-7001Extn: 9007

Social & Political Science Journals

Steve Harry


1-702-714-7001 Extn: 9042

© 2008-2016 OMICS International - Open Access Publisher. Best viewed in Mozilla Firefox | Google Chrome | Above IE 7.0 version