It is hard to believe that people in Flint, Michigan have the worries of a third world country. Recently, the local government decided to save money by transferring its water production to its decades old water system. That water system was abandoned due to age and also because a different, more efficient water source was available. The decision was a financial one but the one thing politicians didn’t figure out is that by saving money, they poisoned the population. If we consider ourselves a first power world then the ability to provide safe, clean water is essential.
The culprit of the poison was lead in the old lead pipes used to transfer water into the homes. The lead from the pipes actually seeped into the water and when consumed by humans, lead to heavy metal poisoning (#heavymetalpoisoning) . This is not just going on in Flint but also in other places all over the country. As a case in point, there is a mall being developed in New Jersey and no politician will drink out of the water fountains even before it is opened to the public. No one is saying why not to drink from the water fountains but yet the public will be allowed to drink from it.
The advancement of our society over the past centuries has been wonderful. We have been living longer, have access to clean water and designed systems to process and remove waste water. This transition in advancement has not always been smooth and there were lessons to be learned along the way. Lets take lead fuel as an example. Lead was originally added to fuel in the 1920s because of the benefits to vehicle performance. Little did people know that the consequences of burning off lead in engines not only polluted the environment but also poisoned people. This lead to a lot of health issues and deaths to those affected. Lead was not phased out of gasoline until the 1970s when the EPA got involved and the car industry adapted by using catalytic converters.
Next up is the issue of lead paint which if you ever bought a house, especially if it was built before 1978, you have to sign the disclaimer about lead paint. Lead in paint was a great additive because it decreased the amount of time it took paint to dry, made paint more durable and also moisture resistant. For a long time, lead based paint was used in homes, on metal exposed to the elements and children’s toys. Eventually, the science behind heavy metal poisoning caught up and led the government to ban the use of lead paints.
Are you a big fan of sushi like me? Have you heard doctors tell you to limit your consumption of tuna to once to twice a week due to mercury levels. If you are pregnant, you can’t eat any sushi because it will affect your unborn child. Humans are the major source of mercury contamination. Volcanoes add to the contamination but we release mercury into the air through coal burning, gold production, human cremation, cement production, caustic soda production, batteries, biomass burning and steel production. All of this mercury goes airborne, into the waterways, into the oceans and into the ocean food supply. The big fish such as tuna and dolphin contain the highest levels of mercury since they consume large portions of little fish.
Heavy Metal Poisoning symptoms
Exposure to any of the toxic heavy metals such as mercury (Hg), cadmium (Cd), arsenic (As), chromium (Cr), thallium (Tl), copper (Cu), Zinc (Zn) and lead (Pb) has disastrous effects both on the environment and our bodies. Symptoms of heavy metal poisoning include high blood pressure, declines in mental function, muscle and nerve pain, numbness and tingling of the extremities, muscular weakness, headaches, abdominal pain, memory loss, mood disorders, reduced sperm count, abnormal sperm, and miscarriage or premature birth in pregnant women. Infants and children that are developing are the ones most affected by heavy metal poisoning. They may suffer from various physical, mental development and behavioral problems.
There is no easy way to detect this poisoning, the only way to truly detect the signs of heavy metal poisoning is through blood work or urine analysis. It is hard to cleanse your body of the toxic metals. So exposure can be detected with ease. Also add to the fact that your local environment plays an important role in whether you continue to be poisoned on a daily basis. The house you live in could be the source of contamination. High concentrations of toxic metals such as lead in the body can lead to convulsions, coma, and death if left untreated. Lower level concentrations are just as harmful especially on organs such as the kidneys or central nervous system.
Have you been a affected by heavy metal poisoning?