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Heavy-Metal Toxicity: 16 Ways to Limit Your Exposure

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What It Is
There are two types: organic and inorganic. Organic arsenic occurs naturally in the earth and small amounts are necessary for the body to function properly. Because the soil contains organic arsenic, many foods have traces of the metal, but it’s not considered toxic. The problem is inorganic arsenic, a known carcinogen. Inorganic arsenic is released into the air by burning fuel oils and coal and also by the widespread use of weed killers and insecticides.

The wood industry is one of the biggest culprits in arsenic pollution. The industry has used arsenic to preserve wood since the 1940s. Arsenic-laced wood has been used to make an estimated 90 percent of wooden play structures, decks and picnic tables. In 2002, the EPA announced the industry decision to phase out arsenic-treated wood, but some consumer advocates assert that the agency hasn’t gone far enough.

Adults and children can absorb arsenic simply by touching wood treated with arsenic. In a study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an environmental watchdog organization based in Washington, D.C., researchers found that “the amount of arsenic wiped off a small area of wood about the size of a 4-year-old’s handprint typically far exceeds what EPA allows in a glass of water.”

Other sources of arsenic exposure include herbicides and many foods, including meat, fish, poultry and even wine. (Arsenic-containing pesticides are often sprayed on winemaking grapes.)

What It Does
The average person’s body contains about 10 to 20 milligrams of arsenic. The good news is that the body efficiently rids itself of the metal. Up to 95 percent of the arsenic the body absorbs is excreted by the kidneys and bowels. The bad news is that chronic exposure to low levels of arsenic can create problems for nearly all the organ systems and is strongly linked to lung and skin cancer.

What You Can Do

  • Buy organic, pesticide-free fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid insecticides and weed killers. If you must spray, avoid products that contain lead arsenate.
  • If your home has arsenic-treated wood, consider replacing it with newer, healthier, arsenic-free alternatives. Keep children away from wood treated with the chemical.
  • Don’t eat food directly off of picnic tables.
  • Add vitamin C to your diet by upping your intake of citrus fruits, strawberries and red peppers. The nutrient can help protect the body from arsenic toxicity.

Next: Cadmium

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+ add your own
11:23AM PDT on Apr 3, 2015

Thank you everyone & Megan for writing. I learned a lot from all of you!

10:13PM PDT on Jun 17, 2013

Just move to Tibet- maybe.

8:04AM PDT on Sep 26, 2010

what about the new clear fillings? are those made of the same toxic ingredients?

4:48AM PDT on Aug 23, 2010

What's ugly are the mercury filings that dentists had previously poisoned us with!

1:58PM PDT on Aug 22, 2010

"Chelation (pronounced key-lation) therapy removes metals from the body and it has been around since the 1920's" - that's ugly !

dentists Gainesville

5:51PM PST on Dec 4, 2009

What about aluminum in antacids, cake mixes, and elswhere.
Research shows that aluminum is a neurotoxin that causes dementia, memory loss, and death. It is suspected to be the cause of Alzheimer's disease.

3:58AM PST on Nov 18, 2009

Chelation (pronounced key-lation) therapy removes metals from the body and it has been around since the 1920's. See

11:52PM PST on Nov 6, 2009

I work with kids with autism and I strongly believe that heavy metals have something to do with it. In the US in 2003 we had 1 in 150 and in 2007 we already have 1 in 63 kids with autism. Kids today get 48 doses of vaccines before they turn 6 years old. If you use homeopathy you know that even trace amounts of a substance can have a reaction in your body. Go online and find what's in your vaccine, each manufacturers ingredient list is a little different and some do have Mercury in it and also Aluminium, Formaldehyde, Triton-X 100 (Polyethylene glycol P-isooctylphenyl ether) is a toxic detergent ect. So take care of your kids because we adults did not have so many vaccines. Outlaw mercury fillings and drastically reduce the amount of vaccines you are getting.

2:40PM PST on Nov 6, 2009

What a timely article, I have my first appointment with a mercury free dentist on Monday morning to start replacing my amalgam fillings. I had a heavy metal body burden urine test and my level for mercury was off the chart. It really scared my Naturopath and she wanted me to detox last June. I told her not until I had my fillings replaced. There are only 2 bio dentists in CT and the one closer to where I live is mostly about the money. So I'll drive an hour to see the other one but I'm lucky for that much. This dentist had me take a bio-compatible blood test to see what dental materials I am allergic to. I'll be detoxing after the work is done.

Sharon, I'll be e-mailing you for some detox advice.

9:28AM PST on Nov 6, 2009

Oops, I forgot the link to the article and study (see PDF at bottom of page):

Will reply to any inquiries Monday since I'm going away for the weekend.

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