Influence Of Heavy Metals In Food On Human Body


Food contains a variety of elements and chemical compounds that have good and bad effects. There are foods that can poison the human body, including foods that contain heavy metals. Heavy metals are metals with high density, atomic number and atomic weight. Heavy metals can be found in various places, one of which is the river. Waste that is disposed of by irresponsible persons who dispose of heavy metals that can have an impact on the environment. Especially it is because of the metal contamination such as lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), arsenic (As) and cadmium (Cd). If those metals come into the human's body through food which is consumed by human, it can make the nerve system troubles, brain damage, paralysis, growth resistance, kidney damage, bone fragility and DNA damage or cancer. Heavy metals that enter the human body will interact among others, with enzymes, proteins, DNA, and other metabolites. The presence of heavy metals in the body will obviously affect the body. If the amount is excessive, it will harmful to the body.


Food have function that is very important for human because it is the mainly needs and determines human survival. The right of food is the most important human right in after life. Therefore, every human being has the right to qualify food both in quality and measure.b Safe food is an important reason for improving public health. According to Basic Constitution Republic of Indonesia No. 7 in 1996, food security is defined as the conditions and efforts needed to prevent food from the possibility of biological, chemical contamination, other objects that can interfere with, harm and endanger human health. Food borne disease can come from various sources, namely pathogenic organisms including bacteria, molds, parasites and viruses, from chemicals such as natural poisons, heavy metals, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and other added hazardous substances. Heavy metal pollution towards the environment is a process which closely related to use of the metal by human. From the beginning of its use, it still not know the effect of pollution in the environment. Oxidation process on the metal that causes the bonding actually are signs pollution. Lately, poisoning cases heavy metals derived from materials food is increasing in number. Metal pollution weight can occur if the industry is using the metal is not pay attention to safety environment, especially when disposing the waste. Certain metals inside high concentration will be very dangerous if it found inside environment (water, soil and air). Heavy metals enter into human body by mouth, the process is food contaminated by tools cook, container (drink / canned food) and through breathing like smoke from factories, industrial processes and waste disposal. Food contamination can also occur from food crops (agriculture) which is given fertilizer and metal-containing pesticides.



Food is an energy source that the body needs to able to carry out various daily activities. Food composed of various elements and chemical compounds needed in the body's metabolism. Heavy metals are metal element which has density > 5 g/cm3 in seawater, heavy metals are in the form of dissolved and suspended. In this natural condition, heavy metals needed by organisms for their growth and development (Effendi, 2000).

Material Coverage

Heavy metals are elements that have a very potent toxicity and has the ability to accumulate in human organs. Even a few cause death. Some dangerous heavy metals are Lead (Pb), Mercury (Hg), Arsenic (As), and Cadmium (Cd). The toxicity of this metal is influenced by several factors, namely ingested metal content, duration of consumption, age, species, gender, eating habits, physical condition, and the ability of body tissues to accumulate metals (Agustina, 2014).

Example of Research

There is research that has been carried out by one of Diponegoro University lecturers in 2006. Pb levels in cattle liver were found to be 2.48 ppm, where the cattle are grazed in garbage dumps in Solo and Semarang.

Advantages / Disadvantages in Life

Heavy metals are very harmful to the body, especially the worst impact is death. Lead is a neuro toxin that is cumulative, destructive and continuous in the haemophilic, cardio-vascular and kidney systems. Children who have suffered from lead toxicity tend to show symptoms of hyperactivity, are easily bored, easily affected, have difficulty concentrating on their environment, including learning, and will experience disruption in their adult years when children become slow thinking, usually people will experience lead poisoning if consume lead around 0.2 to 2 mg / day. Following are the effects of Lead for health:

  • Nervous System and Intelligence

The effects of Lead on the nervous system are well known, especially in occupational health studies where workers exposed to high lead levels are reported to suffer symptoms of appetite loss, depression, fatigue, headache, forgetfulness, and dizziness. The effect of lead on children's intelligence has the effect of lowering IQ even at low levels of exposure. Further studies have shown that an increase in blood lead levels above 20 µg / dl can result in a decrease in IQ of 2-5 points.

  • Systemic Effect

High lead in our blood (Lead toxicity above 30 ug / dl) can cause other systemic effects, gastro-intestinal symptoms. Lead poisoning can result in abdominal pain, constipation, cramps, nausea, vomiting, anorexia, and weight loss. Pb can also increase blood pressure. The point is this lead can damage organ function.

  • Effect on Reproduction

Lead exposure in women during pregnancy has been reported to increase the risk of miscarriage, uterine infant mortality, and preterm birth. In men, the effects of Pb include reducing sperm count and increasing the number of abnormal sperm.

  • Effect on Bone

In bone, these Pb2 + metal ions are able to replace the presence of Ca2 + (calcium) ions found in bone tissue. Consumption of foods high in calcium will isolate the body from new exposure to Pb.


There are several metal elements which includes micro elements is a heavy metal group that is does not have the same biological function once. The metal is even very dangerous and can cause poisoning (toxicity) in creature life (animals and humans) namely Lead (Pb), Mercury (Hg), Arsenic (As) and Cadmium (Cd) Heavy metal pollution towards the environment is a process that is closely related to use of the metal by humans. Occurrence of metal contamination most often caused by influence metal pollution heavy, motor vehicle fumes, use of metal as extermination pests (pesticides), cooking utensils and presentation and packaging containing heavy metals, fertilizing and industrial waste disposal. Heavy metal contamination on humans can also go through food and the water they consume. This matter happens because the environment is like air, water and soil contaminated with heavy metals that is. The impact, all creatures live in the food chain, including plants, animals and humans are contaminated and suffer from various disorders health. Heavy metals are a danger caused by the bio-accumulation system. Bio-accumulation is an increase concentration of chemicals in the body living things in enough time long, compared to concentration chemicals found in nature. Metal the weight that enters the body humans will interact among others, with enzymes, proteins, DNA, and other metabolites. There is metal the weight in the body will obviously be influential in the body. When the excess amount will certainly be very dangerous for the body.


  1. Agustina, T. 2014. Kontaminasi Logam Berat pada Makanan dan Dampaknya pada Kesehatan. Jurnal TEKNOBUGA, 1 (1): 53-65.
  2. Charlena. 2009. Pencemaran Logam Berat Timbal (Pb) dan Cadmium (Cd) pada Sayur-Sayuran.
  3. Effendi, H. 2000. Telaahan Kualitas Air. Bogor : IPB.
  4. Gusnita, D. 2012. Pencemaran Logam Berat Timbal (Pb) di Udara dan Upaya Penghapusan Bensin Bertimbal. Jurnal Berita Dirgantara, 13 (13): 95-101.
14 May 2021
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