Table 1

Negative effects associated with heavy-metal exposure and toxicity

MetalNegative effects of:aReference(s)
Acute toxicityChronic toxicity
ArsenicBloody urine, GI discomfort, diarrhea, headaches, vomiting, convulsions, coma, and deathSkin lesions, blisters, Blackfoot disease; organ failure/damage; diabetes; cancer and mutagenic properties18, 44, 49, 109
CadmiumHepatic, pulmonary, and testicular injuryRenal and bone injury (osteoporosis); carcinoma (primarily prostate and renal); toxicity to other organs63, 89, 119
ChromiumVomiting and diarrhea; hemorrhage and blood loss in GI TractLiver/kidney necrosis; skin ulcers, “chrome holes,” irritative dermatitis; ulceration and perforation of the nasal septum; nasal, pharyngeal, and gastrointestinal carcinomas20, 126
LeadNeurobehavioral problems: impulsivity, distractibility, and short attention span; mild fatigue; headaches, nausea, vomitingAntisocial behaviors; impaired hemoglobin synthesis; impaired renal function; deafness, blindness, retardation; decreased IQ, memory loss; decreased libido, fatigue5, 37, 65, 83, 95
MercuryImpaired neurodevelopment; loss of IQ; decrease in memory, attention, language, and visual-spatial perception tests; associations with autism and ALSImpaired neurodevelopment; loss of IQ; decrease in memory, attention, language, and visual-spatial perception tests; associations with autism and ALS33, 38, 48, 57, 84
  • a ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.