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Medical geochemical investigations in taking precautionary measures against diseases. Protection and human health

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Pages :
505 - 515

Varnavas S.P., Kalavrouziotis I.K., Karaberou G., Apostolopoulou K. and P.S. Varnavas
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A considerable number of diseases are directly related to environmental impact. Toxic metals such
as Hg, Pb, Cd, and As may damage significantly the human health when they exceed certain levels
in the body. For example specific precautions should be taken for the diet of pregnant women and
the children. Lead concentrations exceeding the safe values can cause severe damage to the
development of central nervous system, as well as a general developmental delay of fetuses and
young children, interfering with the functioning of almost every brain neurotransmitter. In particular
for the pregnant women, it has been found that the exposure of the fetus on high lead values may
cause, apart from neurological and behavioral problems, low birth weight, pre-term delivery,
spontaneous abortion and stillbirth. Organic mercury (methyl mercury) is the most dangerous form of
mercury, because it is the most easily absorbed orally and crosses into the brain and fetus so
readily. Populations exposed to chemical compounds containing As, Ni, Cr, Cd, etc. are considered
of high-risk in developing cancer.
Environmental geochemical studies can help in assessing the quality of the environment as well as
the determination of the sources of pollutants, their behaviour and other characteristics. This
knowledge is necessary in any application of remediation methodologies and waste management for
the prevention of pollutants in getting into the food chain. It is also used in determining safe criteria
regarding the quality of soils, drinking water, construction of schools, playgrounds etc. In this work
the importance of environmental geochemical research and its applications towards the protection of
human health is demonstrated.

Medical geochemistry, metals in human health, metals in cancer disease, metals in nervous diseases, Pb in fetus development, remediation methods, and job diseases