Heavy metals are among the most harmful contaminants in the ecosystems due to their persistency, bioaccumulation and high toxicity. In this chapter, we presented the sources, distribution and pathways of heavy metals in soil, water and air. The physico-chemical properties, uses, toxicity and health hazards of the purely toxic heavy metals lead, cadmium and mercury were also described. Other essential heavy metals were briefly presented and the main health effects due to their deficiency or excess were displayed in this chapter. Finally, the various methods used for the removal of heavy metals from soil and aquatic environments were discussed with a focus on nanomaterials.
Part of the book: Environmental Health