The heavy metals often used in manufacturing can accumulate in the soft tissues of the body. Some heavy metals, such as zinc, copper, chromium, iron, manganese, and nickel are essential to our body’s functions, but only in very small amounts. If these metals accumulate in the body in high concentrations, they can become toxic, creating medical problems and potentially causing serious damage to the body. Early detection is essential. Thus, it is vital to regularly monitor employees who are exposed to such heavy metals.
Symptoms and medical problems associated with heavy metal poisoning will vary according to the metal accumulated.
At SafeWorks Illinois, we start treatment with an understanding of the work history of the employee. Exposures resulting from industrial environments probably include other personnel who may not realize they also have some risk.
Chromium is often used in manufacturing of a wide range of products including cars, glass, pottery and linoleum. Excessive exposure to chromium may cause problems from gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea and vomiting to lung and respiratory tract cancer as well as kidney diseases.
There are many clinical conditions and diseases can share signs and symptoms of chromium toxicity, so it’s important to have an experienced occupational medicine team like ours to narrow down the diagnosis definitively.
If proper precautions are not observed, lead production workers such as battery plant workers, welders and others may be overexposed to lead. The effects vary depending on the age of the individual and the amount of exposure. Symptoms may be noticeable, but often are not, and usually develop over a 3-6 week period.
Nickel is commonly used in a variety of industries. It is a pigment in glass, ceramics, and fabric dyes. It can also be converted to nickel carbonyl and used as a catalyst in petroleum refining and in the plastics industry. And it is frequently employed in the production of metal alloys, electroplating, nickel-cadmium rechargeable batteries, and sometimes as a catalyst in hydrogenation of oils.
Almost everyone has nickel in his or her body. It’s important to select a team like SafeWorks Illinois for monitoring your employees because we have the experience to identify the different nickel levels from normal to chronic to acute.