Heavy Metals

G L Klein, University of Texas Medical Branch at

Galveston, Galveston TX, USA

© 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Food that we are culturally habituated to consume is usually thought to be safe. However, some foods are naturally contaminated with substances, the effects of which are unknown. Crops are sprayed with pesticides while they are being cultivated; some animals are injected with hormones while being raised. Meanwhile, other foods are mechanically processed in ways that could risk contamination. This article discusses food contamination with heavy metals, the heavy metals involved, their toxicities, and their sources in the environment. A brief consideration of medical management is also included. Five metals are considered in this category: lead, mercury, cadmium, nickel, and bismuth.

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