Heavy Metals Exposure –

Understanding Risks, Testing, and Detoxification Procedures

Heavy metal exposure is a significant public health concern worldwide. Particularly in Malaysia, emissions from industries have raised concerns about contamination of air, soil, and water bodies (1). This can lead to involuntary ingestion or inhalation by humans.

We live in an age where exposure to heavy metals is a real risk. While some metals like iron and zinc are crucial to our health, others such as lead or mercury can be dangerous if we’re exposed at high levels. This makes it vital for us to understand the risks of heavy metal exposure and know about ‘heavy metal testing’ and detox procedures.

So where does this toxic metal come from? In several places actually; contaminated air/water due to industries or mining waste is a big contributor. You could also get exposed through your job (like in battery manufacturing) or even by eating foods that have been grown in tainted soil – certain fish included! Other common sources are cosmetics, jewelry, and old paint coatings.


Certain heavy metals like lead, arsenic, or mercury are toxic. They interfere with vital body functions when present beyond permissible limits(2). Chronic exposure can cause neurological disorders like memory loss, nerve damage, tinnitus, cardiovascular issues such as blood pressure changes; renal problems including kidney damage etc.(3)


Routine testing is not done in Malaysia if not suspecting any occupational health hazard. However, many people still have heavy metal level beyond permissible level, hence it is recommended to get this test done with any functional medicine center help detect precise quantities of circulating metals to help effective intervention strategies aimed at minimizing future health issues.

Blood tests predominantly detect recent exposures while hair analysis offers insight regarding past exposures in the past 3 months. Urine test can also be done which is done as Urine Challenge test which requires patient to collect before and after chelation urine in order to see how much heavy metals are stored in the body.

It is advisable to discuss with your functional medicine doctor to determine which type of the heavy metal test is the most suitable for individual’s health problem and concern.

Detoxification Procedures

Healthcare providers suggest different detox alternatives depending on individual requirements:

  1. Chelation therapy uses substances that bind to heavy metals facilitating their elimination through urine. It’s suitable for heavy metal toxicity cases but requires professional supervision due to potential side effects.
  2. Adjustment in diet or supplementary approach is another slow but safe method – examples include coriander which expels aluminum and garlic known for its anti-lead properties amongst others.

Apart from these procedures, maintaining good hydration ensures regular toxin flushing out via sweat/urine/bowel movement; undertaking physical activities or even far infrared light therapy endorsing sweating thus aiding detox processes would help maintain a healthy balance.

Remember though it isn’t always possible to eliminate all risks surrounding us, we have the power to mitigate them substantially thereby promoting improved quality of life for everyone!


  1. Lim Kim Hui et al., 2010 “Heavy Metal Contamination Of Water And Soil Among Vegetable Farms In The Cameron Highlands”
  2. Satarug Soisungwan et al., 2010 “Associations Of Human Exposure To Heavy Metals With High CRP And Other Markers Of Inflammation”
  3. Li Yang Jing, 2008 “Exposure To Lead And Mercury Through Breastfeeding during the First Month of Life”
  4. Enrico Sabbioni et.al.,1995” Biomonitoring For Heavy Metals: The Scientific Basis for Study Interpretation.”
Functional medicine Malaysia doctor

Dr. Shirley Koeh
04 September 2023