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Fluorine (Symbol= F, From fluorospar the minteral from which fluorine is derived.)- A non-metallic gasieous element. Note: keep in mind that although fluorine is a gas, it can act as a solid if combined with other elements. Fluoride, the binary compound of the element flourine, is incorportated into the structure of teeth and bones, and has a cariostatic effect. Cariostatic is simply the inhibiting of dental caries or "cavities". In reality, fhuorine does not inhibit dental caries, but rather inhibits the bacteria that may cause them. Fluorine is not a guarantee against caries but does help. The problem is that fluorine also has side effects over time. The question is: is the prevention of tooth decay wotth the risks of fluorine accumulation in bones?
Excesses of fluorine cause what we call fluorosis. Fluorosis is characterized by skeletal changes such as osteomalacia (inadequate mineralization of the bones), osteosclerosis (hardening, or abnormal density of the bone) and "mottled" teeth enamel (if exposure occurs during enamal formation). The exposure to sufficient enough amounts of fluortde to cause fluorosis can be achieved by breathing in industrial gases, ingestion of flouride containing compounds (toothpastes, insecticide) and water with large amounts of fluoride.
 
RDA of
There is no known RDA for fluoride. since it plays no part in human metabolism.
 
Toxicity of Fluoride
We read about excesses of fluorine and the effects it can have on skeletal tissue. Upper limits in the amounts of fluorine contained in drinking water have been imposed in many countries. The terms used to describe the amounts of a substance in water are PPM, PPB, etc. PPM stands for "parts per million" and refers to the amount of substance contained in one-million parts water. For example, if we divided a sample of water into one-million drops, and one of those drops was pure chlorine, then we would say that the water contained 1 PPM of chlorine. The amount of chlorine can be expressed as 1/1,000,000. Accordingly, if there was one drop of chlorine in one-billion drops of water, then we would have a sample of water with 1 PPB chlorine. Most developed countries have limits of substances allowed in the drinking water. Limits on chlorine, flouride, other minerals, and even microorganisms have been imposed in many countries. Some elements are even added to the drinking water in many countries to render it more safe. For example, by adding fluoride to the public drinking water, many officials are simply trying to help prevent decrease the incidence of dental caries in the population. Adding chlorine also inhibits many microorganisms, so we can understand the strategy. Flouride and chlorine, like some of the other elements also have their risks as well. Therefore, this is the ebb and flow of our never-ending debate and decision as to whether we include them in many of the products we come into contact with on a daily basis, especially the ones that we consume.
Cadmium (Symbol= Cd, Greek kadmia earth)-A bivalent metal similar in properties to Tin. However, cadmium and its salts are poisonous. Cadmium and its compounds are used in photography, engraving and many other industrial processes.
 
Toxicity of Cadmium
Cadmium, its salts and other cadmium contaioing compounds or mixtures are poisonous. For example, if cadmium bromide (CdBr2), is ingested, it causes abdominal pain, choking, increased salivation, tenesmus, and other painful symptoms. Inustrial cadmium can also cause bronchitis. The problem with cadmium is that it tends to accumulate in tissues over time. The organ that seems to be affected the most is the kidneys. In the diet cadmium is poorly absorbed, but once absorbed, it is difficult to get rid of. Vegetables and plants growing near mining villages may have increased amounts of cadmium in the soil. This can be taken up by plants via their roots. There have been a few reports of villages or towns that have suffered because of increased amounts of cadmium placed into the soil. In these areas, there was an increase in osteomalacia (inadequate mineralization of the bone) and other side effects.
Lead (Symbol= Pb, Latin plumbum)-A soft, grey- blue metal. Lead, its salts and and other compounds, or mixtures are poisonous. Lead was known to be harmful hundreds of years ago. Lead poisoning may even have contributed to the downfall of Rome. Lead can cause poisoning not only through ingestion, but additionally via absorption through the skin. Use of lead is popular in industry and many harmful lead-containing products have been manufactured. Tetra-ethyl lead, the "anti-knocking" agent added to petrol (gasoline) can be absorbed through the skin causing mental symptoms and death. Lead, once popular in pencils, caused illness in many children and unfortunately, death on occasion. During the Roman Empire, lead was used to make cooking vessels. Being unaware of the effects of lead contamination, many people must have suffered during this time.
 
Toxicity of Lead
Toxicity of lead causes anorexia (loss of apetite), constipation, decreased body weight, decreased libido, headache, dizzines, hypertension, mood changes, irritability, insomnia, and other symptoms. A classic sign indicating lead poisoning is the development of blue-coloured goms in the area bordering the teeth.
Arsenic (Symbol= As , Latin arsenium, arsenum, arsenicum from Greek arsen strong)- Nonmetallic element, occurring as a grey, brittle and shiny solid with a "garlicky" odour. It is harmful by ingestion and inhalation. Arsenic is also a carcinogen. Arsenic has been used in medicinal compounds over the ages. "Flower of arsenic" or arsenic trioxide is a sweet tasting arsenic compound that was taken in small doses. It causes an increase in the red blood cell mass and was used to increase the performance of workers. This practice however, is dangerous.
 
Toxicity of Arsenic
As with flower of arsenic, the user developed a reddish appearance, probably from the increase in absolute red cell mass and thus, the increase in haemogobin. The idea behind this was increased oxygen delivery, similar to "blood doping" for increased athletic ability. this of course, is only tmemporary. Side effects may include increased clotting, and increased blood viscosity, which has an affect on vessel walls. Also, increases in blood pressure occur. Interestingly, pokeweed also stimulates erythropoiesis (red blood cell production).
Acute or immediate arsenic poisoning, which usually results in hypotension and death depending on dose, is characterised by severe stomach pain, cramps, erythematous skin eruptions, nausea, vomiting, swollen eyelids, and peripheral extremities.
Chronic exposure to arsenic results in headaches, peripheral neuropathy, confusion, white lines in the fingernails, pigmentation of the skin, scaling and increased thickness of the skin on the hands and soles.
Mercury
 
Mercury (Symbol= Hg , Latin hydrargyrum or mercurius) - A metallic element. Unlike other metals, mercury is liquid at room temperatures. Mercury and its salts have been used as antiseptics, purgatives, astringents, antisyphilitics, as well as for other uses. Mercury is toxic to the human. Therefore, use in therapy is becoming less frequent.
Industrial uses of mercury include the manufacture of batteries, explosives, thermometers, paint, and electrical apparatus. Dimethyl and diethyl mercury is used in the the treatment of seeds.
 
Toxicity of Mercury
The fatal dose of mercury salts is approximately 1 gram. Ingested metallic mercury is usually not "immediately" toxic to other tissues in the body because metallic mercury is not immediately absorbed from the GI tract. In fact, a radiograph (X-ray) of a patient's abdominal area after swallowing mercury is quite an extraordinary thing to see, clearly showing the aggregated globules of mercury along the route of the intestine. However, the mercury can cause immediate and severe local inflammatory reactions to the intestine where is first ends up after swallowing. But this local delay does bide some time to obtain quick emergency treatment to rid the body of mercury. Remember, inducing vomiting yourself is not enough, because some of the ingested mercury is Furthermore, mercury inhaled into the lungs can cause severe pneumonitis. Mercury vapour (monatomic state) is lipophilic (lipid soluble), and thus, can pass through the lipid membrane of cells, Brain cells can accumulate mercury, as well as cells of other tissues in the body. Once in the cells, the mercury is oxidised from Hg+1 to the Hg+3. This is a difference of one electron in the mercury atom, and consequences of this are that the mercury then has more toxicity on the cells. Mercury decreases the action of cellular enzymes. Keep in mind that enzymes are proteins, and proteins are long chains of amino acids. Some of these amino acids contain sulfur-hydrogen (-SH). Mercury deactivates cellular enzymes by combining with the sulfur-hydrogen (-SH) portions of the enzyme. Without these enzymes working properly, the cell cannot function properly (depending on the need of the enzyme) and can result in cell death. If many cells in a tissue are affected, tissue death results. As the kidney attempts to rid the body of mercury, it concentrates mercury from the blood into urine. Since the kidney accumulates large amounts of mercury, they can deposit in the glomeruli (functional units of the kidney) and cause specific tissue damage to these areas. Tissues most affected from mercury poisoning are the gastrointestinal tract, renal (kidney), and lung. The gastrointestinal tissues are obviously affected, because after swallowing, this is where the mercury initially ends up. Massive inflammation and corrosion can ensue. In the lung, severe inflammation can ensue, with the inhalation of even minute amounts. There are no guidelines and this is why mercury vapours in industry must be carefully controlled. Kidney damage is caused as explained above. Hepaitc (liver) damage is also observed in mercury poisoning. Keep in mind that the first place food and other absorbed substances travel to is the liver. Therefore, the liver is subjected to a variety of insults when we eat. From acute mercury poisoning, death is usually from uraemia (uremia, or increased levels of nitrogen containing compounds in the blood due to kidney failure). This can occur weeks after mercury poisoning, and kidney failure becomes apparant as urine output suddenly decreases, or ceases.
Treatment of mercury poisoning
There are many mercurial compounds (chemicals mixed with mercury) in existence. Compounds of mercury are sometimes more poorly absorbed than others, and of course, this is encouraging in cases of accidental ingestion (eg., children swallowing). Howver, other mercurial compounds can be more dangerous, because the other portions of the compound may increase absorption. It is always important to rapidly obtain medical treatment in cases of accidental ingestion. In regards to mercury, it is particularly important, because emergency measures can be employed to remove the mercury from the body. At present, penicillamine and dimercaptol are used in treatment of mercury poisoning. Additionally, supportive measures are employed for damage to any of the organ/tissue systems.
In summary
Acute or immediate mercury poisoning results in stomach pain, vomiting, bloody diarrhoea, metallic taste in the mouth, decreased or no urine output, and ulceration of the digestive tract. Chronic poisoning, either through ingestion of small doses, inhalation, or absorption through the skin results in a blue line along the gum borders, hypertrophied (thickened) gums. tremors, incoordination, salivation, bleeding gums and loosened teeth and stomatitis (inflammation of the oral mucosae).
 
 
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