Which Substances are Most Toxic to the Body?

There are certain substances that are very dangerous for human beings. As incredible as it may seem, we encounter these substances in our daily lives, with some of them even used for aesthetics purposes.
Which Substances are Most Toxic to the Body?

Last update: 20 September, 2018

Every day, and without even knowing it, we come into contact with various substances that are harmful to our health. In this article, we will discuss the substances that are toxic to the body. We look at where we can find these substances and how we can avoid them. Keep reading to learn more.

The most toxic substances for the body

By means of different tests, we can determine the toxicity of a substance, whether it’s liquid, gaseous or a solid. If you want to know which substances are most toxic to the body, keep reading:

1. Mercury

For a long time now, manufacturers have stopped producing thermometers that contain mercury. This is because mercury is a toxic substance and exposure to this element can cause irreparable damage to the kidneys and brain. Contact with mercury for pregnant women is prohibited, as it is the cause of hearing, vision and memory problems in the fetus.

2. Arsenic

If a person inhales arsenic, the body’s circulatory system absorbs it. The extent to which it is absorbed depends upon the solubility (the level to which it has been dissolved in the oxygen that we breathe). The size of the arsenic particles and whether the substance has been diluted or not, also has an impact on the level of toxicity.

When arsenic is present in food, the intestine absorbs it quickly, where it rapidly reaches the blood stream. Arsenic that has been ingested is mostly eliminated through urine, but this still leaves traces inside the body. This heavy metal can cause multi-organ failure, cardiac and respiratory problems.

3. Lead

Until fairly recently, lead was being used in household paint, pipework and even in dentistry. When ingested, the human body can’t excrete this metal and it becomes harmful in a short period of time. Symptoms of lead poisoning can include brain damage, memory loss, abdominal pain and even infertility.

4. Botulinum toxin

Commonly referred to as Botox, and widely used in the aesthetic industry, this is one of the most toxic substances that exists. Botox is often injected to improve the appearance of wrinkles and to increase the size of the lips. Botulinum neurotoxins can cause muscle paralysis and it has the ability to ‘stick’ to viruses and bacteria and makes them more resistant to medications.

5. Cyanide

Although several plants naturally produce cyanide, (bamboo, sorghum, and cassava), when high concentrations of this compound enter our body, cyanide can cause death. Liquid or gaseous cyanide can enter the body through ingestion, inhalation or contact with mucous membranes (eyes, nose) and skin.

6. Toluene

Toluene is another substance that is very toxic to the body and we can find this in various objects that we have at home: plastic bottles, paints, cosmetics, adhesives, nylon, perfumes… And the list goes on.

Inhaling toluene can be dangerous to our health, so it’s necessary to take certain precautions. For example, always wear a mask when painting, avoid breathing in car fumes and wear latex gloves when using cleaning products. Also present in nail polishes and makeup, be sure to check the ingredients of cosmetics and avoid using products that contain this substance.

7. PCBs

This synthetic chemical was very popular in certain commercial industries because of its two main characteristics: stability and non-flammability. Although nowadays there are few products on the market containing this chemical, it’s still in use. PCBs are often found in paints (that are made from oil), coal, plastics and food crops.

Latest research reveals that traces of PCBs have also been found in fish, such as salmon and even in several aquatic mammals. To prevent this chemical from entering your body, only consume organic products and wash all foods thoroughly before eating them.

8. Tetrodotoxin

Not all toxic substances are produced in laboratories, many are also found naturally in our environment. Tetrodotoxin is the most noxious element that an animal can produce. We can find this substance in the famous ‘pufferfish’ or ‘fugu’.

The fugu is an expensive culinary delicacy that requires expert chefs to handle and prepare it. Without the correct preparation technique, this dish can cause poisoning and even death. A single puffer fish contains enough toxins to kill 30 people. The tetrodotoxin compound is 1,000 times deadlier than cyanide, and 100 times more deadly than the venom of a black widow spider.

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