While some metals are considered toxic, essential metals power up human biochemical processes and various metabolic activities. For example, specific enzymatic reactions require zinc as an important cofactor. Cobalt forms the core of vitamin B-12. Most importantly, iron is an important component of haemoglobin. Similarly, trace elements, such as chromium, copper, manganese, molybdenum, and selenium, should be included in the human diet.
However, when the amount of these metals becomes too low or exceeds their normal levels, heavy metal toxicity occurs. Toxic heavy metals can affect an individual’s health as they accumulate in biological systems. These heavy metals must be detected since their presence in the body can adversely damage the human health by causing excessive free radical activity. They can also compromise the body’s immune system.
To determine the amount of these toxic substances, heavy metal testing is used. It measures the amount of toxic heavy metals in the body from the obtained blood, hair, saliva, and urine samples. It can also be used to check if food is contaminated with heavy metals.
If incorrectly identified or unrecognized, a number of health problems result from overexposure to toxic heavy metals. For instance, renal dysfunction arises from long term exposure to cadmium. Once absorbed, cadmium can stay in the body for several years. Cadmium can also cause obstructive lung diseases and bone malformations in humans and animals. Another heavy metal, chromium, in low doses, can produce skin irritation and ulceration. In high doses, chromium can cause damage to internal organs, such as kidney and liver, as well as to tissues of the circulatory and nervous systems.
Copper, when present in high amounts, also causes kidney and liver damage, along with anemia and stomach and intestinal irritation. In other cases, pregnant women exposed to lead pose risks not only on themselves, but also on the developing fetus in their wombs. Excessive exposure to lead also results to damages to internal organs and systems, including the gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, joints, reproductive system, and nervous system. Other health problems such as tremors, gingivitis, minor psychological changes, spontaneous abortion, and congenital malformation are associated with inorganic mercury poisoning.
Although heavy metal toxicity rarely occurs, cases are taken seriously because they represent clinically significant medical conditions. Left untreated, heavy metal toxicity can increase the morbidity and mortality rates. Arsenic, lead, and mercury are the most common heavy metals that cause acute and chronic conditions.
For these reasons, heavy metal testing comes in to play its vital role. Nowadays, this can be conducted at home by using the heavy metals test kits that are readily available. This home kit can provide the result in a few minutes. A colour chart is also included to easily interpret the measured level of heavy metals. These kits come in two forms. One is used as a general kit to determine the presence of a wide array of heavy metals, including cadmium, cobalt, copper, lead, manganese, mercury, nickel, and zinc. The other one is specific for measuring the levels of a particular heavy metal such as aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, chlorine, chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, lead, manganese, mercury, molybdenum, silver, and tin.