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HEALTH CONCERN? BioHealth Health Concerns

Sources of Heavy Metals

Contributing Author: Riendeau, Claire N.M.D.

Claire RiendeauDr. Claire Riendeau is a naturopathic doctor specializing in nutrition and functional medicine, with many complex cases involving long-term chronic infections and environmental toxicity. Claire has earned two doctorate degrees, Doctor of Naturopathy and Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine, is certified in Metabolic Nutrition and holds a Diploma of Homeopathic Medicine. She is a member of the American Naturopathic Medical Association and the International Foundation for Nutrition and Health. She is a widely sought out lecturer and provider for environmental illnesses such as Lyme disease.

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Baking powder
Emulsifier in some processed cheese
Table salt (anti-caking agent)
Bleaching agent used in some white flours
Antacids (aluminum hydroxide gels)
Buffered aspirin
Some brands of toothpaste
Cooking utensils
Dental amalgams
Cigarette filters and paper
Aluminum foil
Tap water
Aluminum containers (cans)


Common pesticides
Wood preservatives
Burned fossil fuels
Cigarette smoking
Hanging around pressure-treated decks, swings sets, telephone poles, and walkways
Dietary intake through meat
Poultry (from the pesticides, herbicides and fungicides in their feed)
Atmospheric pollution (coal, gas, and oil)
Tap water
Pesticide residues on tobacco


Cadmium contaminates our air, food, and water. Food is the most important source, as many commercial foods are grown on cadmium-rich sewage sludge that is sold as commercial fertilizer. Shellfish and bottom-feeding fish concentrate industrial contamination from waterways. Much of the seafood in the Atlantic Coast comes from the Chesapeake Bay, one of the most polluted waters. It is also one of the world’s largest naval shipyards and contains high amounts of cadmium and PCBs from barnacle-proofing bottom paints. The greatest source of airborne contamination is from burning of fossil fuels such as oil, auto, and industrial exhaust, municipal incinerations of plastics and batteries, coal furnaces for electricity, etc. Drinking water has become progressively more contaminated while softened water (from your water softener) and acidic water (from chlorine and other chemicals) hold even more cadmium.

Many occupations and exposures magnify the possibility of cadmium toxicity: auto mechanics, glass makers, jewelers, lithographers, graders, sculptors, textile printers, painters, and jobs working with solder, welding, plating, ceramics, and pottery (or eating and drinking from unglazed pottery), electric instruments, electroplating, mining and refining, paints, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, pigments, plastics, dental amalgams, and people wearing porcelain dental crowns, and more.  In essence, you cannot find a person without excessive cadmium exposure (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 1990).

The half-life of cadmium in the body is ten to thirty years.

Cadmium causes hypertension, angina, high cholesterol, benign prostate hypertrophy or prostatitis, prostate cancer, other cancers, osteoporosis, bizarre neurologic syndromes, hormone deficiencies, glandular failures like hypothyroidism, depression, puzzling pain syndromes, migraines, ringing in the ears, arthritis, emphysema, chronic fatigue, protein-losing kidney disease, and symptoms that baffle specialists and super-specialists.

Refined foods (low zinc to cadmium levels)
Acid drinks contained in galvanized containers
Phosphate fertilizers
Gluten flour
Some cola drinks
Tap water
Atmospheric pollution (coal, gasoline and oil)
Canned fruits and beverages
Alcoholic beverages
Tobacco smoke, cigarette paper
Zinc, lead and cadmium batteries
Cadmium plating used in some soft drink dispensers
Grinding amalgams


Tap water (copper pipes)
Organ meats and processed meats
Soft drink dispensers
Oral contraceptives and cigarette smoking increase copper retention
Chemicals used to treat algae in city water and swimming pools
Copper cooking utensils


Atmospheric pollution (automobiles, foundries)
Lead-based paints and enamels, ceramic glazes
Newsprint and catalogs
Lead pencils and crayons
Lead pipes and solder
Vegetables and fruit grown near busy roadways
Some wines
Batteries and other industrial use of lead
Processed meats


Large fish (organic complexing)
Pesticide residues
Fungicides on grains
Atmospheric pollution (coal, gas, and oil)
Dental amalgams
Interior paints


Costume jewelry
Atmospheric pollution (gasoline, oil, coal)
Cigarette smoke
Eyeglass frames
Hydrogenated oils and margarine