Metal can be bad for you- not the metal music but the metals in the environment. We’ve learned a lot about metals over the past half a century. Before Ozzy got his metal on, some children played with toxic metals to learn about them, and metals still impact children and adults in everyday products today.
Picture this: three middle school children stand at a school desk in the 1960s, intrigued by how a thick liquid moved and how it was hard to put your finger through even though it was liquid. The children were in science class learning about mercury, a substance that would evacuate a local hospital if it accidentally spilled on the floor today. A hazardous waste team would come to clean up this substance that school children once played with to learn about the periodic table. Has mercury, like other metals that were once commonly used, changed much over the past five decades?
The answer is easy. No, the metals haven’t changed. Mercury and other metals we commonly encounter have not changed, but our knowledge of metals has changed. We now know how toxic mercury is to our health. While many dentists are using alternative materials, many dentists still utilize mercury for filling cavities. Even though we have safe alternatives, mercury fillings are not a thing of the past because humans’ willingness to change doesn’t always happen as fast as their knowledge.
How Do Metals Impact Health?
How do metals impact our health? Metals are neurotoxins, which means they cause damage to the brain when present in the body, a condition known as heavy metal toxicity.  Some people handle metal exposure with minimal side effects. But others are less able to detoxify these metals from their system and experience chronic health issues as a result.
When these substances enter the body, they are taken and stored inside fat cells to protect us from them. Fat cells are all over the body, including the brain. The blood-brain barrier is there to protect us from these metals leaching into the brain, but a condition called leaky brain means there’s a breakdown in this barrier, allowing the toxic metals to enter and wreak havoc.
Do any of these symptoms sound familiar: chronic fatigue, skin rashes, depression, and headaches? These are the symptoms of heavy metal toxicity or being a metalhead. While that may sound like a great band name, it can lead to some serious repercussions. In more severe cases, metals cause autism in children and Alzheimer’s in adults. Children with autism nearly always present with elevated toxic metal levels in their system, and patients with Alzheimer’s show increased aluminum levels in their brain autopsies.
Where Are Metals?
Lead was once a common substance used in everyday items such as paint, pipes, and even gasoline in vehicles. Today we understand the dangers of lead poisoning and take reports of lead exposure in our environment very seriously. Lead receives much publicity. You will hear stories of lead in toys and even contaminating water supplies in communities. Publicity and public health programs keep lead top of mind, but it is far from the only toxic metal we are exposed to daily. Many other metals are still commonly used in household items, dental procedures, and food products.
Aluminum is another metal we encounter every day. We cook with it, store food in it, and apply it to our bodies through deodorant.  Manufacturers started using aluminum during World War II when tin became scarce due to rationing. Several products now made with aluminum are still mistaken for tin even today. For example, aluminum foil is often called tin foil, and aluminum cans used for canned vegetables and soups are still commonly called tin cans. Neither of these products has been made from tin for the last 60 years.
Around this time of year and into the fall, you may be tempted to get a flu shot to protect against winter viruses. Unfortunately, these vaccines are also a source of aluminum and, in some cases, even mercury.  These metals are used as preservatives to stimulate the immune system to create immunity to the dead virus it carries with it.
There are multiple ways you and your family can encounter metals regularly, even after all we know about their toxicity. Our knowledge and understanding of our world can often change faster than how we interact with it as humans. We get stuck in everyday practices and continue to do what we’ve always done.
Easy Ways to Avoid Metal Exposure:
• Use parchment paper instead of aluminum foil.
• Buy your soups and veggies in a box rather than a can.
• Even better: make those soups from scratch.
• Use deodorant without aluminum – Don’t worry; there are many good options on the market.
• Avoid vaccines.
• Before your dentist drills, ask what type of filling they’ll use. (Opt for biocompatible materials)
• Do you have a mouth of silver? Ask about replacing current fillings.
• Check your make-up for metals – Look closely at foundations and eye make-up.
• Choose fish known for low mercury content – Usually, these will be your smaller fish choices and the fish that big fish eat.
What Do I Do Now?
Don’t be a metalhead! It’s time to take action and remove these metals from your body. There are easy ways to avoid being a metalhead, like checking your products and swapping the ones with metals out for new options. You aren’t a dog or Ozzy Osbourne, so you can learn new tricks. If you suspect metals may be causing more severe health concerns, contact a doctor who can address your concerns and get you properly tested. Removing these metals from your system will help protect your brain from damage and help you avoid irreversible brain disorders.
Written By: Dr. Jesse Anderson
- The role of intestinal endotoxemia in a rat model of aluminum neurotoxicity (spandidos-publications.com)
- Aluminum Chloride Topical: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Pictures, Warnings & Dosing – WebMD
- Common Ingredients in U.S. Licensed Vaccines | FDA
- Understanding Thimerosal, Mercury, and Vaccine Safety – black and white version (fda.gov)