About Heavy Metals & Toxicity
Metal toxicity is the toxic effect of certain metals in certain forms and doses on life. Some metals are toxic when they form poisonous soluble compounds. Certain metals have no biological role, i.e. are not essential minerals, or are toxic when in a certain form. In the case of lead, any measurable amount may have negative health effects. Often heavy metals are thought as synonymous, but lighter metals may also be toxic in certain circumstances, such as beryllium, and not all heavy metals are particularly toxic, and some are essential, such as iron. The definition may also include trace elements when considered in abnormally high, toxic doses.
Toxic metals sometimes imitate the action of an essential element in the body, interfering with the metabolic process to cause illness. Many metals, particularly heavy metals are toxic, but some heavy metals are essential, and some, such as bismuth, have a low toxicity. Most often the definition of toxic metals includes at least cadmium, lead, mercury and the radioactive metals. Metalloids (arsenic, polonium) may be included in the definition. Radioactive metals have both radiological toxicity and chemical toxicity. Metals in an oxidation state abnormal to the body may also become toxic: chromium(III) is an essential trace element, but chromium(VI) is a carcinogen.
Toxicity is a function of solubility. Insoluble compounds as well as the metallic forms often exhibit negligible toxicity. The toxicity of any metal depends on its ligands. In some cases, organometallic forms, such as methylmercury and tetraethyl lead, can be extremely toxic. In other cases, organometallic derivatives are less toxic such as the cobaltocenium cation.
Decontamination for toxic metals is different from organic toxins: because toxic metals are elements, they cannot be destroyed. Toxic metals may be made insoluble or collected, possibly by the aid of chelating agents. Alternatively, they can be diluted into a sufficiently large reservoir, such as the sea, because immediate toxicity is a function of concentration rather than amount. However, bioaccumulation has the potential to reverse this.
Toxic metals can bioaccumulate in the body and in the food chain. Therefore, a common characteristic of toxic metals is the chronic nature of their toxicity. This is particularly notable with radioactive heavy metals such as radium, which imitates calcium to the point of being incorporated into human bone, although similar health implications are found in lead or mercury poisoning. The exceptions to this are barium and aluminium, which can be removed efficiently by the kidneys.
Detection of Heavy Metals
API’s Food Poison Detection Kit includes everything one needs to conduct a complete analysis of food for all the most notorious poisons, document the results and preserve any evidence. This Kit was developed under a research grant with the U.S. Department of Defense and has been validated by multiple parties.
Detector for Lead, Mercury, Cadmium and Thallium, all materials for sample preparation and built-in Quality Assurance. This Kit includes full color instructions.
Our GHM-01 Detector for Common Heavy Metals rapidly and easily detects and identifies common heavy metals. A simple color change alerts the user if Heavy Metals are present. This cheap and easy-to-use method can be purchased directly from our webpage linked above.
The EYAL™ DD-04L Reader allows for fast, quantitative determination of Heavy Metals in solution using the QuantTab™ Heavy Metal Determination Card. Using the provided software, sample concentrations can be tracked and monitored over time.