Metals play important but varied roles in human health. Some metals are required for normal metabolic function, with optimal amounts for maximum benefit. Others are only known to cause toxic effects. Most of our knowledge of the function of metals in human health has been acquired in the last 100 years. However, evidence of adverse health effects attributed to metal exposures dates back to early civilizations. For example, it has been deduced that extensive mining and smelting of lead and its widespread use in the Roman Empire caused significant incidence of lead poisoning (Nriagu 1983; Hong et al....

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