How Metal Contamination of Water Affects the Body

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Knowing how metal contamination of water affects the body will give you the mental tools to watch out for an all-too-common problem. If you start to notice the signs of water contamination in you or your family, you should immediately stop drinking from your tap. It is far better to catch these issues sooner rather than later.

What Are Metal Contaminants and Where Do They Come From?

When we talk about water contamination, our concern has to do with heavy metals—metallic elements that are toxic and have a high density. Some of the most common heavy metals include lead, copper, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium.

Toxic metals can end up in drinking water through industrial, municipal, and urban runoff. They could pollute the air from coal-burning plants, smelters, and waste incinerators. Heavy metals could get into homes through household plumbing or old paints. They can also affect humans through natural incidents. For instance, geologic deposits of arsenic can dissolve in groundwater.

Risk To Children

Parents should especially know how metal contamination of water affects the body because infants and kids are at the greatest risk of being negatively impacted by exposure to heavy metals. Their developing bodies are far more sensitive to foreign poisons, and they receive higher doses of metals from food and water than adults because they consume more for their body weight.

Exposure to some metals can lead to learning difficulties, damage to the nervous system, memory impairment, and behavioral problems.


Lead and mercury can have a serious impact on the brain, especially for young children. At high levels, lead can attack the brain and central nervous system, leading to comas, convulsions, and death. Children who go through severe lead poisoning may have mental and emotional disorders for the rest of their lives. Mercury also has horrifying effects, including fatigue, behavioral changes, tremors, hearing and cognitive loss, dysarthria, hallucinations, and death.


High exposure to cadmium is known to have a startling correlation with liver disease. In animal models, humans can actually recreate liver failure by exposing the animals to cadmium. Various diseases of the liver have also shown a correlation with arsenic, including hepatomegaly, hepatoportal sclerosis, liver fibrosis, and cirrhosis of liver.


Mercury can accumulate in the kidneys and cause high exposure to the tissue. Kidneys can recover, however, once the body is cleared of the contamination. Cadmium can also be a cause of kidney disease.

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