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Sources of Heavy Metals Print E-mail

by George J Georgiou, Ph.D.,ND.,DSc (AM)

Posted by Ron Kennedy, M.D., Santa Rosa, CA

Heavy metals have been implicated in various research studies to cause as many as 20% of learning disabilities, 20% of all strokes and heart attacks, and in certain areas to be a factor in over 40% of all birth defects - these are really nasty metals! Perhaps you have been asking yourself, "where do all these heavy metals come from," given that they are everywhere around us, even up in the North and South poles?

Sources of Toxic Metals

A source of toxic lead is from paint chips, drinking water, fertilizer, food, auto and industrial emissions, and dust. Cadmium is found in regions with high emissions from incinerators, coal plants, or cars, as well as in shellfish and cigarette smoke. Other common sources include rural drinking water wells, processed food, fertilizer, and old paint. Aluminium is found in aluminium cookware, antiperspirants, cheese and other processed food. Nickel, which is highly toxic, is commonly seen in dental crowns and braces, along with jewellery, etc. (Nickel and inorganic mercury frequently produce allergic type autoimmune reactions and associated problems). Manganese and other metal exposure can come through welding or metal work.

Mercury is another major issue - the most common significant exposure for most people is to mercury vapour from amalgam fillings. Dental amalgams usually emit 1-10 ug/day; the amount of mercury found in the brain is strongly correlated with the number of dental fillings.

Researchers have shown that chewing gum can double the mercury levels in the blood and triple the levels in urine for those that have amalgam fillings.

Seafood contaminated with mercury is another issue of concern - generally larger fish have most mercury, due to bioaccumulation in the food chain. The HIGHEST levels of mercury have been found in the following fish, with mean mercury levels in parts per million (ppm):

Tilefish (Golden bass or Golden snapper), 1.45; Swordfish, 1.00; Shark, 0.96; King Mackerel, 0.73 and Grouper (Mycteroperca) 0.43.

LOWER levels have been found in the following fish:

Tuna (fresh or frozen) 0.32; Lobster Northern (American) 0.31; Halibut 0.23; Tuna (canned) 0.17; Crab Blue 0.17; Scallop 0.05; Catfish 0.07; Salmon ND; Oysters ND; Shrimp ND (ND = not detectable).

During the spring of 2001 the State Department of Health (DOH) issued a fish-consumption advisory for women of childbearing age and children under age six, due to high levels of mercury in certain breeds of carnivorous fish such as shark, swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel, and tuna.

Another major exposure source to infants is from thimerosal, a water-soluble, cream-colored crystalline powder used as a preservative in vaccines that contain 49.6% mercury by weight. It was present in over 30 licensed vaccines in the US, in concentrations of 0.003% to 0.01%, but thankfully this has been banned by a number of countries recently. In the human body, thimerosal is metabolized to ethylmercury and thiosalicylate which are highly toxic substances.

The EPA safe limit for mercury exposure is one-tenth of a microgram (0.1 mcg/kg) but it is common for most children to be vaccinated on the day of birth with the hepatitis B vaccine which contains 12 mcg of mercury (30 times the safe level). At 4 months, they are again vaccinated with the DtaP and HiB vaccine on the same day, which provides a further 50 mcg of mercury (60 times the safe level). At 6 months they receive the Hep B, Polio with a further 62.5 mcg of mercury (78 times the safe level). These figures are calculated for an infant's average weight in kilograms for each age. By age two, American children have received 237 micrograms of mercury through vaccines alone, which is thousands of times more than the EPA safe limit.

Mercury in the thimerosal preservative in vaccines is 50 times more toxic than liquid mercury because injected mercury is far more toxic than ingested mercury and converts to ethylmercury, which has a natural affinity for brain cells and nerves. The fact that babies do not have a blood-brain barrier makes penetration easier. Moreover, infants have difficulty excreting mercury, as they do not produce bile, which is required for proper excretion. If the nurse giving the injection did not shake the vial according to directions before drawing out the vaccine dose, there is a chance that the child receiving the last dose could get as much as 10 times the usual amount of mercury in one dose.

So you see, toxic metals are literally everywhere - in our food, our water, the air we breathe as well as the medications we take thinking that these are good for our health. The question that requires answering is how do we protect ourselves and our loved ones from these toxic metals, and what health problems do they really cause?

The information in this article is not meant to be medical advice.�Treatment for a medical condition should come at the recommendation of your personal physician.

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