Environmental toxicology is the “science and practice of the adverse effects, mainly of chemicals and other man-made agents in the environment and through the environment.” Metals are an important source of environmental contamination. The top three heavy metals of concern due to their toxic profile listed under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) are arsenic, lead, and mercury. Chronic exposure to arsenic produces peripheral vascular disease leading to cyanosis of the extremities, particularly the feet, progressing to gangrene called the blackfoot disease. It can also lead to hyperkeratinization of the skin, gastrointestinal toxicity, peripheral neuropathy, anemia, leucopenia, and carcinogenesis. Lead toxicity can lead to neurotoxic effects; adverse cardiovascular, hematological, renal, and gastrointestinal effects; and also predisposes to carcinogenesis. Minamata disease is a classic example of organic mercury poisoning following ingestion of fish and shellfish contaminated by methylmercury. Chelators like ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), British anti-lewisite (BAL), succimer, sodium 2,3-dimercaptopropane sulfonate (DMPS), penicillamine, deferoxamine, and deferasirox are used in the management of heavy metal poisoning.
KeywordsChelators Ecotoxicology Heavy metal poisoning
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