In December of 1970, the National Research Council’s Subcommittee on Geochemical Environment in Relation to Health and Disease held a Symposium: “Minor Metals of the Geochemical Environment, Health & Disease,” at the Annual AAAS Meeting in Chicago. The symposium was co-sponsored by The Geological Society of America and the American Geophysical Union. Participants included scientists from many fields, and the papers contributed to a multidisciplinary appraisal and overall review of the occurrence and availability of trace elements in the environment as they affect the health of animals, including man. This volume is an account of that symposium.
Relationships between the abundance of certain trace elements and disease—for example, deficiency of iodine with goiter and cancer of the thyroid, and excess selenium with “blind staggers” and congenital anomalies—have been known for a long time and are reasonably well understood. But there are a host of other trace elements that are probably just as important in their effects on man and other animals which are unknown in their action or very poorly understood. There is urgent need for us to direct more of our attention to this important aspect of the environment.
For many trace elements, a minimal intake is required if health is to be maintained. But excessive amounts of these very same “essential” elements can produce serious disease, and this latter group of effects is of special concern. We must have detailed information as to the concentrations of trace elements that occur in rocks, waters, soils, and the . . .