Sudanese Plants Show Promise in Removing Heavy Metals

According to an article printed in the Australian Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences, three Sudanese medicinal plants may have the ability to remove heavy metals from water. Ethanol extracts were taken from the local and common plants moringa, bulrush, and Egyptian lemongrass and used to treat water contaminated with one of four common heavy metals.  All three plants successfully absorbed cadmium, chromium, and zinc from the water samples.  Bulrush and Egyptian lemongrass extracts were successful in absorbing lead, but strangely the moringa extract failed.  This conflicted with past research where moringa was found to absorb lead. The researchers believe this to be the case because the moringa seeds they used in the test were “defatted”.  Removing the fat from the seeds may also have removed essential oils which may be necessary in absorbing the lead.

The researchers concluded, “The results of this study showed that all tested plants have capability to remove such metals and the study had confirmed the traditional use of these plants in water purification.  Therefore, a wide investigation of these plants for their removal potent of heavy metals and the identification of the flavonoids of these plants would be an interesting line of inquiry.”

Filtering Out Heavy Metals Using Gallium

Australian researchers have discovered a way to filter toxic heavy metals from water using aluminum and gallium.  According to an article published in Advanced Functional Materials, when a piece of aluminum is added to the core of liquid gallium at room temperature, layers of aluminum oxide are quickly produced at the surface of the gallium.  These aluminum oxide nano-sheets are highly porous and suitable for filtering heavy metal ions, as well as oil contamination at extremely fast rates.  The researchers say this filtration would be low cost since the gallium can be reused and “green” for the environment as it requires a low expenditure of energy.  The researchers believe this technology could be put to good use in places where people don’t have access to clean drinking water.

If you’ve got bad quality water, you just take a gadget with one of these filters with you.  You pour the contaminated water in the top of a flask with the aluminum oxide filter. Wait two minutes and the water that passes through the filter is now very clean water, completely drinkable.  And the good thing is, this filter is cheap.” – Professor Kalantar-zadeh


We often bring up what heavy metals are bad for us, but some are essential in our diet.  They include:

(Ca) Calcium – An essential component of bones and teeth and…a metal!  It is largely in our bones and critical for muscle and nerve function.

Sources:  Dairy Products, Broccoli, Figs, and Sardines

(Fe) Iron – Iron is found in our blood and helps carry oxygen throughout our bodies.

Sources:  Meat, Spinach, and Beans

(Cu) Copper – Copper can help absorb dangerous, highly reactive chemicals in our bodies.

Sources:  Lobster, Crabs, Beans, and Nut

(Mg) Magnesium – Magnesium is needed in our bodies for strong bones and teeth, as well as for muscle contraction and relaxation.

Sources:  Vegetables (especially dark green, leafy ones)

(Zn) Zinc – Zinc is important for governing gene activity and managing hormones.

Sources:   Whole Grains, Nuts, Chickpeas, and Oysters

(Co) Cobalt – Cobalt forms the core of vitamin B12 and is important for making red blood cells.

Sources:  Meat, Dairy, and Vegetables (leafy green ones)

(Mn) Manganese – Manganese helps break down fats, carbohydrates, and proteins in our cells and convert food to energy.

Sources:  Whole Grains and Cereal Products

New Research Finds Heavy Metals Linked to Heart Disease & Stroke

According to research published in the British Medical Journal, exposure to heavy metals like lead, arsenic, cadmium and copper may lead to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Researchers performed a meta-analysis of 37 unique studies comprised of nearly 350,000 participants from different parts of the world.  The study found that the greater the exposure to the previously mentioned heavy metals, the greater the chance to develop cardiovascular disease.  Exposure to cadmium, copper, lead and arsenic all showed an increased risk of coronary heart disease.  An increased risk of stroke was also linked to lead and cadmium exposure.

“Button” Battery Ingestion in Children

As a parent, I’ve noticed more and more of the electronic toys my children play with require the little round lithium batteries otherwise known as “button” batteries. Every year, thousands of children are ingesting these batteries either orally or by lodging them in the nasal cavity or ear canal.  In 2017 alone, over 3,000 ingestions were reported in the United States. Mercury or other heavy metal poisoning is NOT a concern when button batteries are swallowed, thanks to the “Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act” established in 1996. This Federal legislation banned the sale of mercuric oxide button cells in the U.S. and prohibits the use of intentionally introduced mercury in alkaline-manganese batteries.  What is dangerous in these small circular batteries is the electrical charge.  Button batteries often contain potassium or sodium hydroxide electrolyte in concentrations up to 45%.  If swallowed by children, they can become lodged in the upper esophagus and react quickly with saliva.  The battery discharges a current that hydrolyzes water and generates hydroxide, creating a caustic injury to the tissue.  Serious damage can occur in as little as two hours.  Button batteries can cause severe tissue burns and cause lifelong injuries.

The best way to prevent battery-related injuries is to ensure that children do not have access to button batteries.  Check products that use these batteries and be sure that the battery compartment is screwed shut and securely closed.  When a battery’s life has expired, dispose of properly. Even a battery that is “dead” and cannot power an electronic device can still cause tissue erosion in less than two hours.

If you suspect your child has swallowed one of these batteries, go immediately to the nearest emergency room.

Lead Poisoning on U.S. Army Bases Reported

A recent investigative report by Reuters claims that at least 31 children who lived in on-post housing at the Army’s Fort Benning in Georgia tested high for lead.  Additionally, at least 77 more children tested high for lead at Fort Polk in Louisiana, Fort Riley in Kansas, and Fort Hood & Fort Bliss in Texas.  According to the report, the cause for the poisoning was lead-based paint from dust and peeling or flaking of painted areas in aging homes.  Other Army housing or structures reported with seriously high levels of lead include Fort Knox in Kentucky and the United States Military Academy at West Point in New York.

Thanks to the research by Reuters, some installations and commands such as Fort Knox have begun initiatives in response to the findings, while others like Fort Benning have issued messages to its families to not participate in any investigation regarding lead.  Though the Army declined to comment on the lead findings, a written statement from Army spokeswoman Col. Kathleen Turner was released to Reuters according to

We are committed to providing a safe and secure environment on all of our installations.”

Something to Chew On…

Do you have a sweet tooth?  Chances are you are among the hundreds of millions of patients around the world who has had to have a dental amalgam or “silver filling” at some point in your life.  A Dental amalgam is used to fill cavities caused by tooth decay and is comprised of a mixture of liquid mercury and a powdered alloy composed of silver, tin and copper.  We all know that mercury is a toxic heavy metal, so is it safe to have in the fillings of our teeth?

According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), “Dental amalgam has been demonstrated to be an effective restorative material that has benefits in terms of strength, marginal integrity, suitability for large occlusal surfaces, and durability.1 Dental amalgam also releases low levels of mercury vapor, a chemical that at high exposure levels is well-documented to cause neurological and renal adverse health effects.2 Mercury vapor concentrations are highest immediately after placement and removal of dental amalgam but decline thereafter.

Clinical studies have not established a causal link between dental amalgam and adverse health effects in adults and children age six and older. In addition, two clinical trials in children aged six and older did not find neurological or renal injury associated with amalgam use.3…”

Others are not so convinced.  In a recent article published at the author warns about the dangers of repeated inhalation and ingestion of mercury, through dental amalgams and recommends consulting a holistic dentist.  The primary concern is the total amount of mercury absorbed from all sources.  People who are exposed to mercury through their jobs, or who eat large amounts of seafood may want to avoid a dental amalgam.  If you are concerned about dental amalgams, discuss your options with your dentist.

Tropical Plant Removes Toxic Heavy Metals from Britain’s Rivers

A new study has found that the water hyacinth plant is successful in removing toxic heavy metals from the River Tawes, south of Wales.  The invasive tropical plant removes pollutants using a process known as phytoremediation.  Using living plants to clean contaminated water is cheaper and more environmentally friendly than other conventional methods.  The water hyacinth plant is native to Brazil, among other countries in South America.  Researchers transplanted the plant (which is actually classified as an invasive species) to the highly polluted British river Nant-Y-Fendrod, a tributary of the River Tawe.  Global copper productions in the 19th and 20th centuries resulted in millions of tons of copper and zinc smelting waste, contaminating soil and affecting waterways in the area.  Three weeks after introducing the non-native plant to the river, researchers found that up to 100 % of the toxic metals (including cadmium, zinc, arsenic, lead, chromium, aluminum, copper, manganese and nickel) were removed.

Paper Water Filters Developed to Remove Pollutants, Including Toxic Heavy Metals

Scientist Liangjie Dong from the University of Hawaii has created an easy-to-use paper water filter called Mesopaper. The filter uses three layers of paper made from bamboo fiber with ceramic granules manufactured from clay sandwiched in between.  The granule’s pores are tiny enough to trap heavy metals like arsenic, lead or mercury, while at the same time letting water and precious nutrients pass through.  Remarkably, inside the pores are nano-sized needles which collect bacteria and deactivate viruses.  They react with water and lock pollutants inside, so when the filter is ready to be thrown away it doesn’t contaminate the ground or pollute groundwater.

The filters are inexpensive, and resemble coffee filters, which can be placed easily over the top of a water bottle or jug before pouring water through it.  Once the filter stops allowing water through, it is time to replace.  Each Mesopaper can filter up to 22 liters of water.  Outdoor enthusiasts, international travelers, and emergency preppers are currently the main consumers, but Dong hopes to continue research to make it one day available on a larger scale to people who need it most in developing countries.

Metal Content in Lip Products

Beginning in 2007, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) began researching lead in lipstick based on findings by consumer watchdog group Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.  Lip products in particular are a concern based on their higher risk of ingestion.  In 2010, expanded research revealed lead in over 400 different lipsticks by various brands.

In 2016, the FDA issued draft guidance to industry on lead as a pollutant in cosmetics, including lip products.

Recently, researchers at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health found other toxicities besides lead in a variety of lipsticks taken from common drugstores and department stores.   Aluminum, cadmium, chromium and manganese were also found to be potential concerns.

Ultimately, it is up to the consumer to research what they are putting on their pucker.  Avoid lipsticks that have been found to have high levels of lead contamination.