In light of the recent events in Portland, Oregon we have compiled some information regarding the health problems associated with toxic metal exposure, how to get tested, and what can be done to treat heavy metal exposure. Cadmium and Arsenic have been released in the region ongoing for decades. There is also a problem with Lead in many Portland homes. Regionally there have been issues with elevated Mercury in the rivers and fish.
Who is at risk?
The Portland/Vancouver region has been chronically exposed for decades. Due to the air and wind and weather patterns the larger region has been affected as well.
Everyone who lives in the Portland/Vancouver is at potential risk of some exposure, has most likely been exposed for some time, and is at risk for chronic accumulation in the body. Those living closer to the known sources are even more at risk.
What are the health risks from exposure to these toxic metals?
These metals have a significant negative impact and contribute to numerous diseases. These metals have been extensively studied and their effects on human health regularly reviewed by the World Health Organization (WHO). They have been found to have a significantly negative impact on an individual’s health as well as a contributing factor to numerous diseases.
- Cadmium exposure is considered a Major Public Health Concern by WHO
Cadmium accumulates in the Kidneys, where can remain there for 10-35 years unless removed. It can lead to irreversible kidney failure and kidney stones. Cadmium exposure when inhaled is associated with lung diseases including emphysema, bronchial airway inflammation, lung cancer, bone diseases, immune system dysfunction, nervous system disorders, and low birth weight in newborns.
A 2014 study showed that urinary cadmium level was a predictor of all cause and all cancer mortalities in men as well as prostate cancer mortality. . Recent data indicates that adverse health effects occur at lower exposure levels than previously anticipated. Cadmium can cause sperm abnormalities and adversely affect genetic formation. (2,3,4,5)
- Arsenic exposure is considered a Major Public Health Concern by WHO
Effects of arsenic exposure can take years to develop. Symptoms include: Skin lesions, peripheral neuropathy, digestive symptoms, diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, enlargement of the liver, suppressed bone marrow function, peripheral blood vessel diseases, and cancer. Cancer can take more than 10 years to develop post exposure and can occur in the skin, bladder, lungs, and may also occur in the kidney, liver, and prostate. Arsenic can pass through the placenta from mother to fetus and is associated with miscarriage, stillbirth, and early term birth. In utero exposures are linked to lung cancer and permanent bronchial disease later in life for the baby. Arsenic can cause sperm abnormalities and adversely affect genetic formation. (2,3,8)
- Lead exposure is considered a Major Public Health Concern by WHO
Lead is associated with diseases of the brain, liver, kidney, and bones. It is stored in the teeth and bones. There is no known level of safe exposure. Symptoms include abdominal pain and cramps, sleep problems, headaches, irritability, decreased bone and muscle growth, damage to the kidneys and the nervous system, speech and language problems, developmental delay in children, seizures, high blood pressure, anemia, and accounts for 143,000 deaths worldwide every year. Lead is a particular health risk for children. Children are particularly susceptible to lead exposure due to high digestive uptake and the permeable blood-brain barrier. Urine tests for lead are one of the screens for chronic exposure and if positive should be followed by blood tests to evaluate for acute exposure. Lead can cause sperm abnormalities and adversely affect gene formation. (2,3,6,7)
- Mercury is considered a Major Public Health Concern by WHO
Mercury in even small amounts can cause serious health problems and is a threat to children and in utero. It can affect the nervous system, the thyroid, the immune system, the lungs, kidney, skin, and eyes. The Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland is not just a character. Hatters in the 1800s would go mad due to exposure to mercury vapors from the mercury in the brims. Mercury can cause sperm abnormalities and adversely affect gene formation.(2,3)
What testing is being recommended to identify exposure and bioaccumulation?
We are recommending a screening urine test for heavy metals for all of our patients in the region. Testing is available during open clinic hours without appointment. You will be notified of results and recommendations if metals are found. We have been testing patients for several years and were surprised by the cadmium exposures. Had we been alerted by the DEQ about the known exposures from local manufacturing we could have been more proactive in alerting our patients. Part of the numerous reasons that we advocate a minimum of annually pursuing a Purification Program and monthly maintenance Bio-Thermal Therapy Treatments to detoxify both known and unknown environmental exposures, improve immune function, and maintain kidney and liver health as we address the unfortunately toxic nature of our modern life.
What do the results mean?
The urinary toxic metal screen is semi-quantitative and provides a range of concentration from 2.5-1.5 parts per million, then 1.5-1.0 ppm, 1.0-.5 ppm, and less than .5 ppm. The only normal is a negative test and if you test positive for metals you should be treated and retested until follow up tests are negative and remain so.
What does it mean if the tests shows Zinc or copper?
Zinc and copper are both essential metals. These essential trace metals can be pushed into the urine when displaced from their binding sites in the kidneys. This occurs when other toxic metals such as cadmium and mercury are present. As the toxic metals are removed with naturopathic medical treatment the zinc is then retained by the body. Zinc is important for immune, skin, prostate, mood, hair, and many other tissues. It should not be excreted, which can lead to deficiency and can lead to other health issues. (1)