Among our daily practices, including where we go and what we eat, the absorption of heavy metals which may lead to toxicity or poisoning has become a severe problem to millions of people around the world. The level of diseases and illnesses that heavy metals create in the human body has been identified to be alarming as the accumulation of such metals may lead to serious chronic toxicity and other symptoms such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, digestive problems, and so on. Long term exposure can also lead to physical and neurological degenerative processes and may even damage vital organs, making them dysfunctional.
In a more serious manner, the leading problematic factor regarding heavy metals is that we as humans are constantly exposed to these metals in our environment. Workplace exposure to heavy metals is one of the leading concerns as the main routes by which these chemicals enter the body is through ingestion, skin absorption, and inhalation. Sources of heavy metal contamination in a typical office environment can include carpets, paint, wiring, cleaning agents, poor drinking water quality and cheap ceramic mugs. In a place where numerous people coexist for long periods each and every work day, this exposure adds up fast. The level of exposure is so prevalent that experts do not discuss whether we are exposed or not to these negative toxins, but rather the intensity of the exposure to individuals.
The category of heavy metals contains a wide range of elements that can be toxic to the human body even in low concentrations. Examples include mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium, aluminum, etc. Poisoning from these types of heavy metals can be defined as symptoms and health problems caused by the accumulation of such environmental toxins inside our body. Researchers have described these metals as 'heavy' due to their characteristics of sticking around in the body by hiding in our fat cells, which make them hard to decompose. It is interesting to note that extreme levels of even essential minerals such as iron, copper, and calcium can also become dangerous.
In the case of Hong Kong, there were reportedly many cases of heavy exposure to these toxic metals amongst the public through means of water, food, air, etc. In 2017, lead and toxic heavy metals were found in water at a public estate in Shau Kei Wan after residents reported a foul smell in the tap water, with multiple people saying that their skin itched after taking a shower. After the members of the opposition democratic party tested the water, they found the water contained metallic impurities such as lead, aluminium, iron, zinc, and copper. Luckily, water used for consumption was reported to be safe, but residents and other experts still urged the Water Supplies Department to conduct further investigations to examine the quality of water.
In 2019, it was reported that excessive amounts of mercury were found in more than half of the tuna samples in Hong Kong. This was originally found and publicized by the Consumer Council, who also stated that these tuna samples exceeded the statutory limit for mercury content. This information is important to note for all people in Hong Kong as the overconsumption of this heavy metal can create adverse effects on the nervous system, especially to unborn babies. Adding on, the city's air quality has also been found to be hazardous, as 20 percent of the PM2.5 particles in Hong Kong collected by scientists contained metals such as chromium, which is a dangerous element that may permanently damage the human DNA.
As mentioned earlier, the biggest problem of heavy metals lies in its prevalence in our environment. Considering that they are actually natural elements that can be found anywhere around the world, there is virtually no way of entirely avoiding exposure to these metals. However, there are certain ways to detox your body from these toxins. The most common way includes a medical procedure called chelation, which is a therapy that administers chelating agents into the body in order to dissolve the heavy metals and excrete them through urination. Other ways of detoxing comprise of making dietary changes and increasing intake of food such as cruciferous vegetables, onions, garlic, green tea and cilantro that are known to be effective in detoxification.
Drinking natural herbs and taking health supplements also helps break down the toxic metals into smaller and safer molecules so they can be removed naturally through urine, feces, sweat and even breath. Last but not least, as a large portion of the heavy metals inside our body hides in our fat cells, eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly is an important part of reducing toxins from our body.
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