Nervous System: Nervous system is a common target of toxic metals. Organic metal compounds which are lipid soluble readily cross the Blood – brain barrier and enters the nervous system. All of the other organ systems of the body are subject to control by the nervous system; thus damage to this 'master' system by toxicants can have far-reaching and even devastating effects.
Renal system: Many heavy metals are potent nephrotoxicants, and relatively low doses can produce toxicity characterized by glucosuria, aminoaciduria, and polyuria. As the dose increases, renal necrosis, anuria, and death will occur. Several mechanisms operate to protect the kidney from heavy metal toxicity. Cadmium has a long biological half-life, 10 to 12 years in humans; thus low-level chronic exposure will eventually result in accumulation to toxic concentrations.
Endocrine system: Xenobiotics have the ability to disrupt hormone activity through a variety of mechanisms,though the predominant mechanisms appear to involve binding to the hormone receptor, either as an agonist or antagonist, or by modulating endogenous steroid hormone levels. A hormone receptor agonist is defined as a compound that binds to and activates a hormone receptor. Receptor antagonists are defined as chemicals that bind to a hormone receptor but do not activate the receptor.
Respiratory System: Occupational exposure to metals in the form of metal dust makes the respiratory system a likely target. Acute exposure may cause irritations and inflammation of the respiratory tract, whereas chronic exposure may result in fibrosis (aluminum) or carcinogenesis (arsenic, chromium, nickel)
Enzyme Inhibition/Activation: A major site of toxic action for metals is interaction with enzymes, resulting in either enzyme inhibition or activation.
Carcinogenicity: A number of metals have been shown to be carcinogenic in humans or animals. Arsenic, certain chromium compounds, and nickel are known human carcinogens; beryllium, cadmium, and cisplatin are probable human carcinogens.
A number of metals have been shown to be carcinogenic in humans or animals. Arsenic, certain chromium compounds, and nickel are known human carcinogens; beryllium, cadmium, and cisplatin are probable human carcinogens.