Heavy Metals In Drinking Water And Its Health Impact


Heavy metal are chemical elements with a specific gravity least 5 times that of water. The specific gravity of water is 1 at 4ºC. Specific gravity is a measure of density of a given amount of a solid substance when it is compared to an equal amount of water. Some well-known toxic metal that of water are cadmium (8.65), iron (7.9), lead (11.34), and mercury (13.546). In small quantities, certain heavy metals are nutritionally essential for a healthy life. Heavy metals once released into the environment can remain in waterways for decades or even centuries, in concentrations that are high enough to pose a health risk. The drink contains several serious metals that are as follows:


Lead could be a present metal found within the Earth’s crust. Its widespread use has resulted in immense environmental contamination, human exposure and important public health issues in several elements of the planet. Important sources of environmental contamination embody producing, mining, smelting and use activities, and, in some countries, the continued use of gas, leaded paint, and leaded aviation fuel. Over 3 quarters of world lead consumption is for the manufacture of lead-acid batteries for cars. Lead is, conjointly employed in several different product, as an example solder, glass, pigments, paints, lead crystal tableware, jeweler, toys, ammunition, ceramic glazes and in some cosmetics and ancient medicines. Drinkable delivered through lead pipes or pipes joined with lead solder could contain lead. Abundant of the lead in world commerce is currently obtained from use.

Young youngster’s area unit significantly liable to the hepatotoxic effects of lead and may suffer profound and permanent adverse health effects, significantly touching the event of the system and brain. Lead conjointly causes long damage in adults, together with raised risk of urinary organ injury and high-pressure level. Exposure of pregnant girls to high levels of lead will cause premature birth, miscarriage, stillbirth, and low birth weight.

Exposure route

  1. Inhalation of lead particles generated by burning materials containing lead, as an example, recycling, throughout smelting, baring leaded paint, and exploitation leaded aviation fuel or leaded gasoline; and
  2. Activity of lead-contaminated mud, water (from leaded pipes), and food (from lead-glazed or lead-soldered containers).


Arsenic may be a natural element of the earth’s crust and is cosmopolitan throughout the setting within the air, water and land. It's extremely hepatotoxic in its inorganic kind. People area unit exposed to elevated levels of inorganic arsenic through drinking contaminated water, exploitation contaminated water in food preparation and irrigation of food crops, industrial processes, uptake contaminated food and smoking tobacco. Long-term exposure to inorganic arsenic, principally through drinking-water and food, will result in chronic arsenic poisoning. Skin lesions and carcinoma area unit the foremost characteristic effects.

Health effects

Inorganic arsenic may be a confirmed substance and is that the most vital chemical material in drinking-water globally. Arsenic may also occur in Associate in Nursing organic kind. Inorganic arsenic compounds (such as those found in water) area unit extremely hepatotoxic whereas organic arsenic compounds (such as those found in seafood) area unit less harmful to health.

Acute effects

The immediate symptoms of acute arsenic poisoning embody expulsion, abdominal pain and looseness of the bowels. These area unit followed by symptom and tingling of the extremities, muscle cramping and death, in extreme cases.

Long-term effects

The first symptoms of long exposure to high levels of inorganic arsenic (for example, through drinking-water and food) area unit typically ascertained within the skin, and embody pigmentation changes, skin lesions and laborious patches on the palms and soles of the feet (hyperkeratosis). These occur once a minimum exposure of roughly 5 years and will be a precursor to carcinoma. In addition to carcinoma, long exposure to arsenic may cause cancers of the bladder and lungs. The International Agency for analysis on Cancer (IARC) has classified arsenic and arsenic compounds as cancer to humans, and has conjointly explicit that arsenic in drinking-water is cancer to humans.

Other adverse health effects which will be related to long activity of inorganic arsenic embody biological process effects, diabetes, pneumonic unwellness, and upset. Arsenic-induced infarct, above all, is a big reason for excess mortality. In China (Province of Taiwan), arsenic exposure has been joined to “Blackfoot disease”, that may be a severe unwellness of blood vessels resulting in gangrene. This unwellness has not been ascertained in different elements of the planet but, and it's doable that deficiency disease contributes to its development. Arsenic is additionally related to adverse maternity outcomes and death rate, with impacts on kid health (1), and exposure in utero and in time of life has been joined to will increase in mortality in young adults thanks to multiple cancers, respiratory organ unwellness, heart attacks, and nephrosis (2). Varied studies have incontestable negative impacts of arsenic exposure on psychological feature development, intelligence, and memory (3).


Cadmium happens naturally in Zn, in lead and copper ores, in coal and different fossil fuels, in shales and is discharged throughout volcanic action. These deposits will function sources to ground and surface waters, particularly once up-to-date with low total dissolved solids (TDS) and acidic waters. Cd has the chronic potential to cause urinary organ, liver, bone and blood injury from long- term exposure at levels on top of the most material level (MCL). There's inadequate proof to state whether or not or not Cd has the potential to cause cancer from lifespan exposures in drinkable. Cadmium is found in drinkable provides as a result of deterioration of galvanized plumbing, alongside industrial waste contamination, or surface water contamination by bound fertilizers... though it's doable for trace Cd to be chemical action or sequestered like any metal, it'll usually be found within the dissolved ionic kind

The U.S. EPA has established a most material Level (MCL) of zero.005 milligrams per l (mg/L) for Cd in drinkable. The Agency has found Cd to probably cause a spread of effects from acute exposures, including: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle cramps, salivation, sensory disturbances, liver injury, convulsions, shock and renal disorder. drinkable levels that area unit thought-about 'safe' for short exposures are: zero.04 mg/L for a 10-kg (22 pounds) kid intense one l of water per day for one- to ten-day exposures, and 0.005 mg/L for a longer-term (up to seven years) exposure. EPA has established a reference dose (RfD0 for Cd at – 5x10-4 mg/kg/day. The Rd. relies upon chronic intake that may end in the urinary organ concentration of two hundred µg/g. No-observed-adverse-effect level (NOAEL) for Cd for humans is zero.01 mg/kg/day. Cadmium has the chronic potential to cause urinary organ, liver, bone and blood injury from long- term exposure at levels on top of the MCL. There's inadequate proof to state whether or not or not Cd has the potential to cause cancer from lifespan exposures in drinkable.

(4) Mercury

Mercury could be a present metal that has many forms. The bronze mercury could be a shiny, silver-white, scentless liquid. If heated, it's a colorless, scentless gas. Mercury combines with alternative parts to make inorganic mercury compounds. Mercury conjointly combines with carbon to create organic mercury compounds. The foremost common kind of organic mercury, alkyl group mercury, is made chiefly by microscopic organisms within the water and soil. Organic mercury will accumulate in microorganisms, water plants, and eventually game fish tissue. It's an explanation for consumption warnings for game fish from some interior lakes and rivers, particularly within the northern us. Bronze mercury is employed to provide atomic number 17 gas and hydroxide, and is additionally employed in thermometers, light-weight bulbs, dental fillings, and batteries. Mercury salts are typically employed in skin lightening creams and as antiseptic creams and ointments. The key supply of mercury is from natural degassing of the crust within the vary of 25,000-150,000 heaps of mercury annually.

Twenty thousand heaps of mercury are free into the atmosphere annually by human activities like combustion of fossil fuels and alternative industrial unharness. Typically, mercury from these sources will flow into within the international atmosphere for months from distant continents, across oceans, etc. and eventually settle in interior rivers, lakes, and streams anyplace. Water borne pollution could originate in waste product, metal purification operations, or most notably, from chloralkali plants. Whereas bronze mercury is often a priority in as a vapor within the air, alkyl group mercury is usually found in sediments and in fish. Metal and metal salts and compounds are often found in water and would be of concern if gift in excessive amounts.

Health Effects

Uptake fish or shellfish contaminated with alkyl group mercury, respiratory mercury vapors in air, or unharness of mercury from dental work and medical treatments are a number of the possibly major sources of excessive mercury intake by humans. The best concern for poisoning comes from the organic phenomenon particularly wherever fish is common within the diet. A build of mercury within the organic phenomenon presents a larger risk of poisoning because of bioaccumulation and biomagnification, but this could not diminish the priority for mercury in water. Alkyl group mercury and bronze mercury vapors are additional harmful than alternative forms, as a result of additional mercury in these forms reaches the brain. Exposures to high levels of bronze, inorganic, or organic mercury will for good injury the brain, kidneys, and developing foetus.

Effects on brain functioning could lead to irritability, shyness, tremors, changes in vision or hearing, and memory issues. The EPA has set a most stuff Level Goal (MCLG) and a most stuff Level of zero.002 mg/l (ppm) for mercury in water. EPA has found mercury in water to probably cause excretory organ injury from short exposures at levels on top of the MCL. No Health Advisories are established for short-term exposures, however. On a chronic basis, mercury has the potential to cause excretory organ injury from long-run exposure at levels on top of the MCL. But EPA has not found enough proof to state whether or not or not mercury has the potential to cause cancer from time period exposures in drink.


Trivalent atomic number 24 happens naturally within the atmosphere and might be found in rocks and soil. It also can be found in fruits, vegetables and meat. Cr3+ is employed to create bricks, metal alloys and chemical compounds. Hexavalent atomic number 24 doesn't occur naturally within the atmosphere. It's made by atomic number 24 truth SHEET International Headquarters & Laboratory Phone 630 505 0160 World Wide Web.WQA.ORG A not-for-profit organization WQA Technical truth Sheet: atomic number 24 bound chemical processes and is taken into account toxicant. Bronze elemental atomic number 24 or chrome doesn't occur naturally within the atmosphere. It's accustomed build steel and alternative metal alloys and is made from chrome bearing ore.

It is instructed that Cr3+ isn't thought-about a big health risk, whereas the additional soluble Cr6+ is taken into account toxicant. 2 of the additional common varieties of this sort of hexavalent atomic number 24 are bichromate (Cr2O7 -2), found at a hydrogen ion concentration below five, and salt (CrO4 -2), found at a hydrogen ion concentration on top of vi. Cr6+ therefore forms charged anionic complexes. Cr6+ is employed within the plating trade, paint production, also as Associate in Nursing anticorrosive alloy in steel and iron production. Cr6+ was conjointly used as Associate in Nursing anti-corrosion agent in boiler water and cooling system water treatment. It's thought-about a health risk whether or not it contacts the skin, it's inhaled, or it's eaten. It will cause nausea, epithelial duct distress, abdomen ulcers, skin ulcers, hypersensitive reactions, excretory organ and liver injury, fruitful issues, respiratory organ and nasal cancer. it's believed that hexavalent atomic number 24 (Cr6+) are going to be reduced to Cr3+ inflicting deoxyribonucleic acid injury within the cell. It's attainable, beneath the correct chemical atmosphere for atomic number 24 to convert between the various forms.

The EPA has set a most stuff level (MCL) and therefore the MCLG for total atomic number 24 of zero.1 ppm (100 ppb) in drink. The USEPA is presently evaluating to work out if a brand-new drink customary for hexavalent atomic number 24, Cr6+ is required. Water has a mean of zero.4 to eight ppb total chromium; air has a mean of zero.1 ppb (OSHA has set a geographical point indoor air limit of one00 ppb supported a forty-hour workweek). Soil has a mean atomic number 24 price of four hundred ppm.


Human activities affect the natural geological and biological distribution of heavy metal through pollution of air, water, and soil. Human are also responsible for altering the chemical forms of heavy metals released to the environment. Such alteration often affects a heavy metals toxicity by allowing it to bioaccumulate in plants and animals, bioconcentrate in the food chain or attack specific organs of the body. Bioaccumulation refers to an increase in the concentration of a metal in a biological organisam over time, compared to the normal concentration in the environment. There is a need that the drinking water of the areas should be filtered by the quality control agencies. The water can be used for drinking purpose unless it is passed through special water treatment. People may suffer through disease on drinking water with higher concentration of heavy metals. They may have physiological effects as on kidney, digestive system, circulatory system, nervous system etc. various other organs and various systems of the body.

14 May 2021
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