Effects Of Heavy Metal On Human Respiratory System
Several heavy metals are found naturally in the earth crust and are exploited for various industrial and economic purposes. Among these heavy metals, a few have direct or indirect impact on the human body. Some of these heavy metals such as copper, cobalt, iron, nickel, magnesium, molybdenum, chromium, selenium, manganese and zinc have functional roles which are essential for various diverse physiological and biochemical activities in the body. However, some of these heavy metals in high doses can be harmful to the body while others such as cadmium, mercury, lead, chromium, silver, and arsenic in minute quantities have delirious effects in the body causing acute and chronic toxicities in humans.
The focus of this study is to determine the effect of heavy metals on human respiratory system by describing the various mechanism of intoxication of some selected heavy metals in humans along with their health effects. Therefore it aims to highlight on biochemical mechanisms of heavy metal intoxication which involves binding to proteins and enzymes, altering their activity and causing damage. More so, the mechanism by which heavy metals cause neurotoxicity and affect respiratory and human health are discussed and recommendations are made.
Table Of Content
- Title page
- Certification page
- Table of content
- 1.1 Background To The Study
- 1.2 Statement Of Problem
- 1.3 Research Objectives
2.0 Literature Review
- 2.1 Conceptual Review
- 2.2 Sources Of Heavy Metal Exposure To Humans
- 2.3 Route Of Exposure, Bio-Uptake And Bioaccumulation Of Heavy Metals In Humans
- 2.4 Effects Of Heavy Metals On Human Health
- 2.5 The Respiratory System
- Figure 2; Diagram Of The Human Respiratory System
3.0 Research Methodology
- 3.1 Research Design
- 3.2 Method Of Data Analysis
4.0 Results And Discussion
- 4.1 Mechanism Of Heavy Metal Toxicity
- 4.2 Health Effects Of Heavy Metal Toxicity In Humans
5.0 Conclusion And Recommendation
- 5.1 Conclusion
- 5.2 Recommendation
1.1 Background Of The Study
Heavy metals include both non-toxic and toxic elements. Iron (Fe), Cobalt (Co) Copper (Cu) Manganese (Mn) Molybdenum (Mo) and Zinc (Zc) Magnesium(Mg) are the trace elements and are required in a very minute amount, whereas other metals are non-essential, toxic to animals and even fatal when accumulated these metals includes; Mercury (Hg), Arsenic (As), Lead (Pb) Plutonium (Pu), Vanadium (v), Tungsten (w) and Cadmium (Cd), (Deevikaet al., 2012).
Heavy metals with established toxic action to humans include cadmium (Morrow, 2010 and Hayes, 2007) lead (Eric, 2013 and Patrick, 2006 and mercury (Bojorklund, 1995).Each of these has been studied in isolation for toxicity (Morrow, 2010; Patrick,2006 and Clarkson, and Magoss. 2006). But in the ecosystem, be it air, (atmosphere, land and water) where they occur they do not exist in isolation. They occur in close association with other metal and non-metallic elemental pollutants. Among the metallic pollutant could be calcium, copper, zinc, magnesium, manganese, iron and others. Metals are known to interact with one another. Interaction can bring about two element together include proximately and could cause out right displacement with one another. When ingested in food and water they can antagonize each other. When it comes to intestinal hand and pulmonary absorption it is there conceivable that the presence of other element can affect the toxic potential of each of the heavy metal that has been study in isolation.
Egborge (1994) reported that Warri River had and unacceptability high cadmium level, 0.3mg/l of H2O, was 60-fold above the maximal allowable level of 0.005mg/l. This report prompted our early studies on the hepato-, nephro- and goladal toxicity of cadmium in rat expose to this high close via water and diet. The diet was formulated with fish expose to 0.3mgCd/water in the ambient water, as protein source and the toxic effects investigated and reported. (Asagba and Obi, 2000; Asagba and Obi, 2001; Obi and Ilori, 2002; Asagba and Obi, 2004a; Asagba and Obi, 2004b; Asagba and Obi, 2005).
The studies focus on cadmium without taken into consideration the fact that other metal were also present the river water and as such were co-consumed by the communities using the river water for cooking drinking and other domestic purposes. Hence it is desirable to know if the presence of other metal would enhance or diminish the toxic potential of cadmium or indeed that of any other metal such as lead that was mention above. Therefore the aim of this present studies was to determine the effect of heavy metals on human respiratory system.
1.2 Statement Of Problem
Metals are natural constituents that exist in the ecosystem. They are substances with high electrical conductivity which voluntarily lose their electrons to form cations. Metals are found all over the earth including the atmosphere, earth crust, water bodies, and can also accumulate in biological organisms including plants and animals. Among the 35 natural existing metals, 23 possess high specific density above 5 g/cm3 with atomic weight greater than 40.04 and are generally termed heavy metals [1, 2].
Theses metals generally termed heavy metals include: antimony, tellurium, bismuth, tin, thallium, gold, arsenic, cerium, gallium, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, lead, mercury, manganese, nickel, platinum, silver, uranium, vanadium, and zinc [1, 2]. This category of metals termed heavy metals have not only been known for their high density but most importantly for their adverse effects to the ecosystem and living organisms . Some of these heavy metals such as cobalt, chromium, copper, magnesium, iron, molybdenum, manganese, selenium, nickel and zinc are essential nutrients that are required for various physiological and biochemical functions in the body and may result to deficiency diseases or syndromes if not in adequate amounts  but in large doses they may cause acute or chronic toxicities.
These heavy metals are distributed in the environment through several natural processes such as volcanic eruptions, spring waters, erosion, and bacterial activity, and through anthropogenic activities which include fossil fuel combustion, industrial processes, agricultural activities as well as feeding . These heavy metals do bioaccumulate in living organisms and the human body through various processes causing adverse effects. In the human body, these heavy metals are transported and compartmentalized into body cells and tissues binding to proteins, nucleic acids destroying these macromolecules and disrupting their cellular functions. As such, heavy metal toxicity can have several consequences in the human body. It can affect the central nervous function leading to mental disorder, damage the blood constituents and may damage the lungs, liver, kidneys and other vital organs promoting several disease conditions .
Also, long term accumulation of heavy metals in the body may result in slowing the progression of physical, muscular and neurological degenerative processes that mimic certain diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease . More so, repeated long-term contact with some heavy metals or their compounds may even damage nucleic acids, cause mutation, mimic hormones thereby disrupting the endocrine and reproductive system and eventually lead to cancer .
1.3 Research Objectives
The main purpose of this study is to determine the effect of heavy metals on human respiratory system. The specific objectives are outlined as follows;
- To determine Sources of heavy metal exposure to humans
- To determine the different heavy metals
- To assess the effect of heavy metals on human respiratory health
5.0 Conclusion And Recommendation
The exposure of heavy metals to humans involve various diverse forms through food and water consumption, inhalation of polluted air, skin contact and most important by occupational exposure at workplace. Though some heavy metals such as iron and manganese are essential for certain biochemical and physiological activities in the body, elevated level in the body can have delirious health effects. Most of the other heavy metals are generally toxic to the body at very low level. The main mechanism of heavy metal toxicity include the generation of free radicals to cause oxidative stress, damage of biological molecules such as enzymes, proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids, damage of DNA which is key to carcinogenesis as well as neurotoxicity. Some of the heavy metal toxicity could be acute while others could be chronic after long-term exposure which may lead to the damage of several organs in the body such as the brain, lungs, liver, and kidney causing diseases in the body.
Heavy metals containing compost may change the physical, chemical and biological properties of soil. These metals uptake by plants from the soil, it reduces the crop productivity by inhibiting physiological metabolism. Heavy metals uptake by plants and successive accumulation in human tissues and biomagnifications through the food chain causes both human health and environment concerns. Heavy metals containing agricultural runoff enter in aquatic environment, and harm to aquatic plants and animals. Therefore, if the compost has to be applied in agriculture it should be free from pathogens and heavy metals.
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