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Generally speaking, heavy metals disrupt metabolic function in two basic ways:
First, they accumulate and thereby disrupt function in vital organs and glands such as the heart, brain, kidneys, bone, liver, etc.
Second, they displace vital nutritional minerals from where they should be in the body to provide biological function. For example, enzymes are catalysts for virtually every biochemical reaction in all life-sustaining processes of metabolism. But instead of calcium being present in an enzyme reaction, lead or cadmium may be there in its place. Toxic metals can't fulfill the same role as the nutritional minerals, thus their presence becomes critically disruptive to enzyme activity.
Because their impact is at such a foundational level, heavy metals can be causal factors in literally any health problem.
Chemical analyses of jet engine exhaust samples indicate that the
exhaust contains heavy metals. Exhaust samples collected at the jet
engine test cell showed substantial increases in metal concentrations
above the control sample, as shown in Figure 5. Zinc, copper, were all observed at levels 100 percent above the
control. Lead levels were 50 percent above the control; cobalt and vandium were observed at less dramatically increased levels—25
and 28.6 percent, respectively. After establishment of this baseline
metal signature for JEPs, sediment collected at field study sites was
analyzed for heavy-metal content. Results indicate that all of the heavy metals found in the samples of jet exhaust were present in
the sediments of field sites near airports
Stimulation of macroalgal growth in some experimental treatments suggests that nitrogenous components may also be associated with JEPs. Our findings show that coastal wetlands near airports may be subject to increased levels of heavy metal and nitrogen deposition.
With respect to aircraft and airports, information and data compiled by the U.S. EPA, the U.S. Air Force (USAF), and other investigators involved in the assessment of aircraft engine emissions reveals the following:
There is very little test data and other supporting information available that
identifies the most common types of HAPs in aircraft exhaust.