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West J Med. 1982 Dec;137(6):531-9.

Occupational and community exposures to toxic metals: lead, cadmium, mercury and arsenic.


Lead, cadmium, mercury and arsenic are widely dispersed in the environment. Adults are primarily exposed to these contaminants in the workplace. Children may be exposed to toxic metals from numerous sources, including contaminated air, water, soil and food. The chronic toxic effects of lead include anemia, neuropathy, chronic renal disease and reproductive impairment. Lead is a carcinogen in three animal species. Cadmium causes emphysema, chronic renal disease, cancer of the prostate and possibly of the lung. Inorganic mercury causes gingivitis, stomatitis, neurologic impairment and nephrosis, while organic mercurials cause sensory neuropathy, ataxia, dysarthria and blindness. Arsenic causes dermatitis, skin cancer, sensory neuropathy, cirrhosis, angiosarcoma of the liver, lung cancer and possibly lymphatic cancer.

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