Effects of Environmental Metal and Metalloid Pollutants on Human Health

  • Maria E. Ariza
  • Gautam N. Bijur
  • Marshall V. Williams


There is no doubt that exposure of humans to high concentrations of metal and metalloid compounds results in the development of specific diseases and in some cases death. Blackfoot disease, hard metal lung disease, itai-itai and Minamata disease are well characterized diseases that are associated with metal exposure. Acute or chronic exposure to metal and metalloid compounds can result in damage to essentially all organ systems. Metal and metalloid ions are hepatotoxic, nephrotoxic and neurotoxic. They can adversely effect the functioning of the endrocrine, hematopoietic, immune, respiratory and reproductive systems. In today’s society, however, exposure to high, cytotoxic concentrations of metal or metalloid compounds is extremely rare. Conversely, everyone is chronically exposed to low non-lethal concentrations of metal and metalloid compounds. While concerns have been raised regarding the potential health risks associated with such exposure, this concept remains controversial. In this chapter, information is presented concerning the potential role(s) that low non-lethal concentrations of metal and metalloid pollutants may have in certain human disease.


Zinc Mercury Chromium Dopamine Cobalt 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria E. Ariza
    • 1
  • Gautam N. Bijur
    • 2
  • Marshall V. Williams
    • 3
  1. 1.Arizona Cancer CenterUniversity of ArizonaUSA
  2. 2.Behavioral NeurobiologyUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamUK
  3. 3.Department of Medical Microbiology & ImmunologyThe Ohio State UniversityUSA

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