Contaminant: Heavy Metals


Health risks associated with heavy metals are often associated with exposure to mercury, lead, or cadmium, all of which can be found in old buildings or buildings used to manufacture products that contain or use these heavy metals in their processes.

Mercury poisoning is on the increase and most exposures come from food; fish being the most prominent source. Mercury can still be found in most buildings in the USA. For example, mercury is found in thermometers, barometers, switches, thermostats, compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), and batteries. Mercury is in liquid form at room temperature but can easily evaporate and become airborne. Once airborne mercury can be absorbed into the body via the gastrointestinal tract, by breathing it in or even by contact with the skin. Once inside the body, mercury is difficult to eliminate. Poisoning can lead to significant neurological problems including headaches, visual field constriction, blindness, hearing impairment, numbed limbs, violent uncontrollable seizures as well as difficulty walking, speaking and tasting. Before starting any demolition or remodeling work, contact SMI for an assessment.

Lead is widely used in a variety of building materials, such as roofing, flooring, wall coverings, and in lead paints, but also in solders and pewter. Lead is poisonous to animals and man causing neurological diseases and brain damage. Children in particular are susceptible to lead poisoning, which can lead to neurological problems at very low exposure levels. Again, before starting any remodeling projects or demolition of your building, contact Southern Middlesex Industries for an assessment.

Cadmium is also found in a variety of building materials although most exposure is associated with rechargeable cadmium-nickel batteries, but is also associated with smelting techniques used in certain manufacturing operations. Fallout from these operations lead to soil and crop contamination, which can find itself in the food supply. Cadmium poisoning can occur at very low levels and is associated with kidney damage and possibly bone problems and fractures. An inspection by SMI of your facilities is strongly recommended prior to any remodeling or demolition work.

If you suspect the presence of heavy metals in your building or facilities, contact Southern Middlesex Industries to schedule an assessment immediately. SMI is uniquely qualified to remove and dispose of your heavy metal problem, rendering your building safe for further work and use.

References/Links:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14757716
http://www.prlog.org/10948260-mercury-is-still-hazard-in-most-buildings-…
http://bmb.oxfordjournals.org/content/68/1/167.full

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