Anti-Pollution Matrix EN – Pollutants – Pollutant list – Heavy metals

Anti-Pollution Matrix

Heavy metals

Anti-Pollution Matrix > Pollutants > Pollutant list > Heavy metals


Heavy metals are vital for a multitude of physiological processes in our body, but in higher concentrations they can be harmful to health. Many of them, such as iron, copper, lead, cadmium, chromium, mercury, uranium, silver, gold or platinum, occur naturally in the rocks of the earth's crust and have found their way from there into groundwater, and through plant and animal foods into the human body. Some heavy metals are also absorbed through polluted air via the respiratory organs or the skin. Heavy metals are found, in gaseous or particulate form in particulate matter, in industrial and combustion fumes, fuel residues, and cigarette smoke. Although unleaded gasoline is now used, tire and brake abrasion, fertilizers and pesticides, pesticides and sewage sludge also release heavy metals into the soil and atmosphere. The extent of daily heavy metal pollution should not be underestimated and resulted in the 1998 “Aarhus Protocol on Heavy Metals”, which aims to regulate the reduction of global heavy metal pollution, especially for cadmium, lead and mercury [1].


Impact on the skin

While we absolutely need some metals such as magnesium, iron or zinc as trace elements for various functions, heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, mercury or even arsenic are toxic for the body and our skin barrier. The dose is a decisive factor. Heavy metal exposure is usually accompanied by diffuse, therapy-resistant symptoms of illness. The complex of complaints ranges from a deterioration of the general condition to metabolic blockades and dysfunctions of the organ systems. With regard to the skin, inflammations, itching and other eczemas may develop. Heavy metals have a broad spectrum of action, they block numerous physiological processes in the body. Heavy metals bind to disulfide and sulfhydryl groups of proteins due to their high affinity for sulfur. This leads to a change in protein structure and thus, above all, to an impairment of enzyme functions. Important metabolic processes are blocked, such as the cellular detoxification system; in this way, they promote the formation of free radicals. The consequences are accelerated aging processes, changes and blockages in cellular functions up to mutations and malignant degeneration of the affected cells (cancer) [3,4].

Heavy metals damage cell structures block central regulatory mechanisms, or promote autoimmune diseases through structural alteration. A central mechanism of action of the metals is their interaction with essential micronutrients such as calcium, iron, zinc and selenium, whose absorption is reduced. This results in considerable metabolic disturbances, since micronutrients function in particular as enzyme activators.



Products with antioxidants can be applied, skin barrier strengthening products and those that cleanse the skin.


Detection methods of the effects

One can use tape stripping to detect heavy metals.

Indirect detection of radical formation in tissue (in vivo/ex vivo) by electron spin resonance (ESR) [5].



[2] D. Meissner, "Problem, clinic and examples of trace element poisoning - An introduction," Toxichem Krimtech, vol. 78, no. 3, p. 447, 2011.
[4] David BernhardAndrea RossmannGeorg Wick, Metals in cigarette smoke, IUBMB Life, 2005 Dec;57(12):805-9. DOI: 10.1080/15216540500459667.