Metals

Elements (such as Arsenic, Mercury, and Lead) are present in various forms and degrees of toxicity throughout the environment. Activities such as mining and smelting operations may increase the levels of heavy metals above normal exposure from natural sources.

Click here to find tips and tools to help Reduce Your Exposure to Heavy Metals

For more information about each heavy metal, click below:

Arsenic:

All soil contains some amount of arsenic. Although significant amounts of arsenic can be released from natural ore bodies, human activity accounts for most arsenic contamination in soil. In Ontario, many gold, silver, nickel, copper, and zinc ores are contaminated with arsenic. As a result, the areas of highest contamination are in the vicinity of mining and smelting operations.

Most arsenic that is absorbed into the body is converted by the liver to a less toxic form that is efficiently excreted in the urine. Consequently, arsenic does not have a strong tendency to accumulate in the body, except at high exposure levels.

For more information about Arsenic, please click on the following links:

  • Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR): ToxFAQs - Arsenic

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Chromium:

Chromium is a naturally occurring element found in rocks, animals, plants, soil, and in volcanic dust and gases. It is colourless and odourless, and is found is several different forms, occurring both naturally in the environment and as a result of industrial processes.

For more information about Chromium, please click on the following links:

  • Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR): ToxFAQs - Chromium

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Cobalt:

Cobalt is a natural earth element present in different chemical forms in soil, plants, and in our diets. In pure form, it is a shiny, hard metal, and can form both organic and inorganic salts.

For more information about Cobalt, please click on the following links:

  • Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR): ToxFAQs - Cobalt

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Copper:

For more information about Copper, please click on the following links:

  • Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR): ToxFAQs - Copper

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Lead:

For more information about Lead, please click on the following links:

  • Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR): ToxFAQs - Lead

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Mercury:

For more information about Mercury, please click on the following links:

  • Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR): ToxFAQs - Mercury

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Nickel:

For more information about Nickel, please click on the following links:

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Zinc:

For more information about Zinc, please click on the following links:

  • Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR): ToxFAQs - Zinc

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March 2, 2012