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What is the difference between heavy metals and essential metals?

Question:

What is the difference between heavy metals and essential metals?

Metals:

In chemistry, a metal is a substance that has the following properties: high electrical conductivity, luster, malleability, readily forms positive ions (cations), and has metallic bonds. In the periodic table, 95 of the 118 elements are metals (or likely to be such).

Answer and Explanation:

Heavy metals are elements that occur naturally in the ecosystem. These metals are abundant in nature and are found in elemental form or in various chemical compounds. Moreover, heavy metals are characterized by their high atomic mass and high density.

On the other hand, essential metals are those that plays an important role in biological systems. In humans, essential metals are important to sustain biological processes in the body. Some heavy metals are also essential metals. Example of these are copper ({eq}Cu{/eq}), nickel ({eq}Ni{/eq}), iron ({eq}Fe{/eq}), and zinc ({eq}Zn{/eq}). Iron forms an essential part of hemoglobin, the protein present in the blood that carries oxygen from the lungs to other parts of the body. Although beneficial, these metals, when excessive in amounts can damaging to humans. In addition, some metals like mercury, plutonium, and lead are not beneficial to the human body and can cause serious illness when accumulates in large amounts in the body.


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Metals on the Periodic Table: Definition & Reactivity

from General Studies Science: Help & Review

Chapter 27 / Lesson 45
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