Discover the toxic heavy metals lurking in your home.

Image for post
Image for post

The first step to any detoxification protocol is to reduce your overall exposure to toxic substances. To help us do this, this post contains examples of the heavy metals you are most likely to come into contact with. Some of these may surprise you, and I’m pretty sure some will shock you to the core!

At this point, it’s important to note that not all heavy metals are truly toxic. While others will destroy your health faster than you can say accelerated aging and memory loss. Some of the more dangerous ones have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, Epilepsy, Multiple Sclerosis, depression, behavioral problems, joint pain, fatigue, anxiety, kidney disease, Parkinson’s disease, and the list goes on and on.

Heavy metals such as mercury, lead, aluminum, arsenic, and cadmium also like to hide in plain sight. And if we aren’t paying close attention, we may even pay to bring them into our homes! What follows is by no means a complete list but it does serve as a valuable aid to anyone looking to stay out of the doctor’s office. To get the ball rolling see if you can spot the heavy metal hiding in the following photo.

If you managed to spot this toxic invader, top marks for observation. If not, I’ll give you the correct answer right before this chapter ends. For now, let’s dive straight in with some common heavy metals that most of us are exposed to. The first on our list is lead.

LEAD

Lead is a neurotoxin. A neurotoxin acts on the nervous system and disrupts the normal function of nerve cells. This makes developing fetuses and small children are particularly susceptible to the dangers of lead. Lead is also associated with major depression, reduced IQ, and anxiety disorders. Here’s why …

The brain has a protective layer around it known as the blood-brain barrier. Its purpose is to keep toxins out. Unfortunately, metals such as lead, aluminum, and mercury cross that barrier with ease (I’ll cover this in more detail in a separate post).

Lead can enter your home in various ways. One of those ways through the waterline. If you think this only happens in Flint, Michigan then, unfortunately, you would be wrong. Right up until 1986, lead solder was still being used to join copper pipes together. Today, plumbers use a form of lead-free solder but many older homes still have lead somewhere in the waterline.

Homes that are completely free of lead pipes aren’t completely off the hook. Most towns and cities across the US have an aging network of copper pipes hidden underground. If it makes you feel better, this is a problem that dates back to Roman times. As the Empire spread, so did the use of lead pipes. It’s speculated that lead plumbing brought down the mighty Roman Empire! Alas, five hundred years later history appears to be repeating itself.

When water sits in pipes for any length of time, lead begins to break down. It then makes its way to your kitchen sink or bathtub. As we shower, heat opens up our pores allowing trace amounts of toxins to be absorbed through the skin. There’s a couple of workarounds that can help reduce the amount of lead (and other toxins) coming into your home via the waterline. First, always let the water run for a few minutes before using it. Second, add a water filter to your home. Without a water filter, your kidneys become the filter!

There are lots of water filters on the market, some are obviously better quality than others. If cost is a consideration know that any filter is better than no filter at all.

Two water filter companies worth checking out are Berkey water filters and Pure Effect filters. Just so you know, I have ZERO affiliation to any products mentioned here, I’m simply trying to save you some time.

If you suspect you may have lead somewhere in your pipes, it pays to get your water tested. Having your water tested is relatively easy and inexpensive to do. A small sample is collected from each faucet and those samples are sent away to a lab. A quick google search will give you a list of people who perform water testing in your area.

Okay, moving along nicely, lead can also be found on the glaze of ceramic dishes. Colored dishware tends to have more glaze while white dishes contain the least. This is good to know when buying new dishware. Those on the higher end of the quality spectrum usually contain no lead at all.

Lead can also be found in spices such as turmeric, chili, and paprika. Whoa! isn’t turmeric supposed to be good for you? Yes, but many spices now coming from India and China contain alarmingly high levels of lead! Remember, organic food is tested for pesticides, not metals.

Lead paint is something most of us are already aware of but it’s actually the fine dust particles that cause the real problem. These can linger in the home long after a remodeling project is complete. When this happens, those tiny particles of lead find their way into our bodies causing serious neurologic changes, developmental delays, and irritability. No really, it’s true!

Lead tends to accumulate in the body (even small amounts) hence those fine dust particles pose a serious health risk to young children. High levels of lead may even be fatal!

If you are attempting to do a little DIY work yourself be sure to wet the whole area down, wear a mask, and ventilate the room. If in doubt, hire a licensed contractor to do the work for you. As a side note, apple pectin has an affinity for lead and may be helpful when taken in a supplement form. For those already dealing with exposure to lead it’s also important to work with an informed healthcare provider.

Lead can even show up at your front door gift wrapped. Many imported toys have high levels of lead that you really wouldn’t want young children sucking on. If you are about to send someone a birthday present, it’s best to check reviews BEFORE buying. If you want a truly lead-free gift, you could always try spending the same amount of money on a memorable experience. It’s funny how kids will remember a day at the park long after a plastic toy hits the trash can.

CADMIUM

Cadmium is classified as a known human carcinogen (cancer-causing). It can also cause damage to the kidneys and lungs. Other symptoms to be aware of are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, unhealthy weight loss, and hypertension. Cadmium can also have an impact on the skeletal system.

Exposure to cadmium occurs mainly from the consumption of contaminated foods. That said, modern manufacturing techniques ensure there is no shortage of cadmium in our lives. It’s present in batteries, synthetic rubber mats, and copy machines. At this point, I’d like to remind you that the aim of this post isn’t to make you feel overwhelmed, it’s to make you aware. Rest assured, if you need them, you can find lots of practical solutions here.

Cadmium is also something to be aware of for those living in close proximity to hazardous waste facilities such as junkyards, recycling centers, or places where smelting activities are carried out. Cadmium can also be found in tobacco smoke (which obviously includes passive inhalation).

ALUMINUM

Aluminum is a neurotoxin; it can sneak past the blood-brain barrier we ease. Many studies have linked Aluminum to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Here are a few ways it can get into your system.

Cooking with aluminum pots and pans can add it to your food. Some estimates suggest upwards of 2 mg per meal. Is that enough to cause a mental decline? Who knows, but what we do know is aluminum can accumulative over time. Perhaps this is why we see so much Alzheimer’s later in life.

Either way, the safer option is to switch any aluminum pots and pans you may have over to stainless steel ones. When roasting in the oven, simply switch to using a glass Pyrex dish or stainless steel grilling basket. Both of these will reduce the amount of aluminum foil you use.

Staying in the kitchen, certain foods, such as processed cheeses contain aluminum-based food additives. Some brands of baking powder also contain aluminum while others are 100% aluminum free. It pays to make a habit of reading food labels. This can help prevent sneaky amounts of aluminum from entering your bloodstream. Voting with your wallet lets the supermarket know which brands suck and which to keep stocked on the shelf.

Believe it or not, aluminum can also be found in toothpaste, cosmetics, and underarm antiperspirants. Aluminum salts are used to plug up pores so that you won’t sweat as much. Deodorants, on the other hand, have no aluminum and reduces body odor with either fragrance or antibacterial compounds.

Soda companies use aluminum cans to package their products. Obviously, they are also quick to assure us that drinking out of aluminum cans is safe. And while this may (or may not) be true the best way to limit your risk is to drink less soda. Soda is a burden on the immune system which can hinder the detoxification process.

MERCURY

Mercury is another heavy metal that crosses the blood-brain barrier. It should come as no surprise that it’s linked to mental problems such as anxiety and depression. But there’s more to this heavy metal than meets the eye. Mercury is a naturally occurring, toxic heavy metal. When it reacts with another substance, it forms a compound. These compounds can be expressed in various ways. To keep things simple, let’s look at mercury in three forms.

1 Elemental (or metallic) mercury,

2 Inorganic mercury compounds,

3 Organic mercury compounds (which forms methylmercury).

ELEMENTAL MERCURY

Elemental mercury is a shiny, silver-white metal that is liquid at room temperature. Elemental mercury is an element that has not reacted with another substance. It’s sometimes used in dental amalgams but it can also be found in thermometers, fluorescent light bulbs, and some electrical switches.

When elemental mercury is placed inside glass it poses little threat so long as the glass remains intact. However, if the glass is accidentally broken, then elemental mercury can become an issue. Once it hits the floor it will immediately break down into smaller droplets. These droplets can disappear through small cracks in baseboards or floorboards. At room temperature, these droplets then evaporate and become a toxic vapor. Vapors are then absorbed via the respiratory tract and distributed throughout the body. As a side note, dental amalgams release similar vapors when exposed to heat or chewing.

INORGANIC MERCURY

Inorganic mercury compounds are formed when mercury combines with other elements, such as sulfur or oxygen. Inorganic mercury compounds can occur naturally in the environment in the form of mercury salts. Generally, they are white powder or crystals, except for mercuric sulfide (cinnabar) which is red. Most uses of inorganic compounds have been discontinued although some are still used by industry to make other chemicals.

ORGANIC MERCURY

Organic mercury compounds are formed when mercury combines with carbon. This can happen during the coal burning process. Working on the principle that what goes up must come down, we can assume that once mercury is released into the air, it will eventually settle on land or sea. It then reacts with bacteria to form a toxic form of mercury known as methylmercury.

Methylmercury then works its way up the food chain to you. Fish that feed on smaller fish such as King mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, tilefish, ahi tuna, and bigeye tuna all contain higher levels. Smaller fish such as anchovies and sardines tend to fare much better. Sardines are perhaps your best bet as they contain trace amounts of selenium. Selenium limits the adverse effects of methylmercury. I cover this in more detail in my book titled “Heavy Metals Detox”

Methylmercury is the major source of organic mercury found in humans. Methylmercury isn’t something to take lightly. Poisoning from methylmercury can manifest itself in more ways than you or I can shake a stick at. As levels in the body rise, more symptoms appear. These can include devastating neurological damage, memory problems, anxiety, depression, etc.

Methylmercury is toxic to the central and peripheral nervous systems. It can also have a serious impact on the immune system, lungs, kidneys, and digestive system.

Methylmercury is the one to watch out for as it is the most common form of organic mercury compound found in the environment. Like most heavy metals, it also accumulates in the body over time. During pregnancy, methylmercury can pass from mother to baby. It’s also linked to developmental abnormalities and cerebral palsy.

GOOD TO KNOW

From a toxicity perspective, methylmercury (from fish consumption) and elemental mercury (found in dental amalgams) eclipse all other forms. Yes, mercury can be found in a wide range of other products (including some medical) but your biggest danger comes from a buildup of the methylmercury and elemental mercury. The good news is, the detoxification process laid out in this handbook can be applied to ALL forms of mercury.

MERCURY TEETH

Before we leave this section, I’d like to impress upon you that once elemental mercury is added to silver dental amalgams, it then becomes a part of you 24/7. Despite this, the ADA (American Dental Association) continues to assure people that silver/mercury fillings are safe. Me? I’m not so sure.

If your dentist is telling you that silver/mercury are safe, then perhaps it’s time to look for a new dentist. If you already have dental amalgams a specialized dentist is required to remove them.

ARSENIC

Arsenic is a metalloid meaning it can exhibit some properties of metals and some of non-metals. As such, it finds its way into air, food, soil, and groundwater, the latter being the most common. Arsenic is known to cause an increase in lung, bladder, and skin cancers.

Arsenic can be found in private well water, some seafood, rice, and rice-based food products. Rice tends to absorb more arsenic as it tends to grow best in flooded rice fields. And while an occasional bowl of rice is unlikely to cause any lasting problems, it is something to be aware of if you consume rice on a regular basis.

If this is you, here’s the workaround. 1: Soak rice overnight 2: Drain the rice and rinse thoroughly with fresh water. This opens up the grain and allows arsenic to be washed out. Sprouted Blonde Rice (grown locally in California) seems to fair much better.

At one time, wood preservers accounted for almost 90% of arsenic produced domestically. By 2004 many manufacturers transitioned away from arsenic trioxide. This was in response to customer demand which just goes to show the power of voting with your wallet.

Pressure-treated decks built before this date may still contain arsenic. This is something to think about when standing barefoot on your deck. Lest we forget, arsenic is used in weed killers and rat poison!

Okay, before we end this chapter did you manage to spot the heavy metal in the photo? Let’s take a look a closer look at that innocent-looking thermostat on the wall.

Here we see an example of elemental mercury in all its splendor! As mentioned earlier, thermostats such as these become problematic if the glass is broken. At room temperature, this could allow toxic vapors to be inhaled.

If you come across one of these in your home, it’s best to seal it in a plastic container and call your local transfer station. They can usually help you dispose of it.

Bottom line: when the burden of heavy metals overwhelms the body’s ability to detoxify them, health problems begin to intensify. Because of their high degree of toxicity, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, and mercury all play a significant role in mental health.

Like what you read? You can read more here.

Written by

I aim to provide engaging content that's enjoyable to read. I’m also the author of the Amazon bestseller “The Healing Point.”

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store