Hanyang Med Rev.  2010 Nov;30(4):319-325.

Heavy Metal Poisoning

Affiliations
  • 1Department of Preventive Medicine, College of Medicine, Chung-Ang University, Seoul, Korea. jdpark@cau.ac.kr

Abstract

Heavy metals are distributed in the environment ubiquitously. Metals are widely used in various industries, because of which have characteristics of marked malleability and ductility. Workers are exposed to metals through inhalation in industry, while the general population who has not been exposed to metals occupationally, exposed orally through diet and drinking water. Workers are exposed to the low level of metals chronically. All metals and metal compounds are potentially toxic to human, but many metals are essential and homeostasis is key to survival. Recently, the proportion of heavy metal poisoning is about 1% in the occupational disease, and reported cases annually are around 10 peoples in Korea. Ninety four cases of heavy metal poisoning were reported from 2001 to 2008 in Korea. The most cause of poisoning was chromium of 51 cases, and followed by lead (25 cases), manganese (9 cases), cadmium (6 cases), and mercury (3 cases), in orders. In this paper, there are reviewed and discussed about exposure source and route, absorption and metabolism, health effects, medical treatment and management of major metals mentioned above. Several metals are known human carcinogens, therefore workers exposed to metals in workplace should be controlled with meticulous care. In conclusion, the efficient controls for workers, who are working under the metal contaminated environment in industry, could be suggested as the prohibition of excessive exposure to metals through health education and environmental controls, and prevention and early detection of metal poisoning by the periodic health examination and exposure assessment.

Keyword

Heavy metal poisoning; Industry; Exposure assessment

MeSH Terms

Absorption
Cadmium
Carcinogens
Chromium
Diet
Drinking Water
Health Education
Homeostasis
Humans
Inhalation
Korea
Manganese
Metals
Metals, Heavy
Occupational Diseases
Occupations
Poisoning
Cadmium
Carcinogens
Chromium
Drinking Water
Manganese
Metals
Metals, Heavy
Poisoning
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