Essential and non-essential heavy metals sources and impacts on human health and plants

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Maria Bibi, Samiullah, Farida Behlil, Saba Afzal, Sahifa


Contamination of heavy metals occurs in environment due to natural sources and human activities. Some heavy metals including copper, cobalt, chromium, manganese, zinc, nickel, iron are essential for living organisms and play vital role in various processes, while others are non-essential for living organisms including arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, and have acute to chronic toxic effects. Exposure of arsenic, cadmium, chromium, mercury and lead beyond permissible limits is lethal for human health and are classified as carcinogenic as per report of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) and International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Current review provides an analysis of essential and non-essential metals sources, their impacts on human health and plants, recommended dietary allowance (RDA) and world health organization (WHO) maximum permissible limits (MPL). This review study provides insight about beneficial and lethal impacts of heavy metals on living organisms and also emphasizes on peer metal analysis of each product utilized by living organisms to enhance the nutritional factors and reduce the toxicity.

Keywords: Essential heavy metals; Heavy metals; Human health; Impacts of heavy metals; Non-essential heavy metals; Plants; Sources of heavy metal

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