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Can Barium Toxicity Cause Heart issues?

Can Barium Toxicity Cause Heart issues?


Barium is a heavy metal you might not hear about daily, but it's used in many things we see around us. For example, it helps smooth lipsticks and is also found in some kinds of waste from making cars and copper.

In hospitals, doctors use a particular type called barium sulfate to get clear pictures of the inside of our bodies, like our stomachs, during X-ray tests.

Sometimes, it gets into our water and food, especially from places where farms don't take good care of the land. We might come across different levels of barium, including background levels in the environment.

When there's too much barium, especially of the soluble barium compounds (the kinds that can mix well into water), it can be bad for our health, causing systemic effects and high levels of barium inhalation exposure.

Soluble barium compounds, such as barium chloride, barium nitrate, barium hydroxide, barium carbonate, and barium acetate, can be found in background levels of barium in the environment. These levels are typically deficient, with the air containing about 0.0015 parts of barium per billion parts (ppb) and the air around factories with barium emissions containing about 0.33 ppb or less.

However, it is essential to note that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set standards and guidelines for exposure to barium, with a permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 15 mg/m3 for total dust and 5 mg/m3 for the respirable fraction of insoluble barium sulfate. This highlights the potential dangers of high levels of barium inhalation exposure, even in total dust.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also plays a crucial role in identifying and addressing hazardous waste sites, including those contaminated with barium, through their National Priorities List (NPL). This further emphasizes the importance of understanding and addressing barium toxicity for public health.

Too much barium can cause our hearts, nerves, and even our bones and teeth to malfunction. Barium is tricky because it can act like calcium, a mineral our bodies need, and mess with essential body functions, like how our hearts beat and muscles move.

Even though barium is helpful for things like makeup and medical tests, we have to be careful with it, especially the types that can dissolve in water, such as barium sulfide, barium nitrate, barium hydroxide, barium chloride, barium carbonate, and barium acetate.

Certain barium compounds can adversely affect the heart and other organs, depending on the exposure levels. One of these compounds is elemental barium, which can be found in nature and is used in various industries.

Understanding the potential toxicity of elemental barium and its effects on serum potassium levels is crucial in protecting our health, particularly regarding its impact on the heart.

The Ubiquity of Barium

Barium is a material you might not hear about often, but it's used in many things around us. It's in lipsticks and lip gloss because it helps smooth them. When people get oil from deep in the earth or melt copper to make new things, barium can be part of the leftover waste. It's even in some car parts!

Plus, doctors use barium to help them see better pictures of our insides, like our stomachs, when they do an X-ray.

Now, barium doesn't just stay in these products. It can get into our water and food, including Brazil nuts, seaweed, fish, and certain plants. That's especially true if the food comes from farms that must be more careful about growing their crops. Having barium around might sound cool because it's used in many ways, but it's only sometimes good for us.

Some types of barium, called insoluble barium compounds, don't mix well with water, so they're a bit safer.

However, it's important to note that different barium compounds can affect human health differently. For example, barium sulfate does not readily dissolve in water and causes few harmful health effects, while other compounds may be more dangerous if ingested or inhaled.

This ubiquity of barium, including its use in drilling muds, and its potential impact on our health, including the possibility of precipitation of an insoluble form of barium, is an important consideration.

Barium compounds, such as barium sulfate, are commonly used in drilling muds to lubricate drill bits in the oil and gas industry. Understanding the sources and uses of barium is crucial in understanding its potential impact on our health, particularly regarding the heart.

Experts in the United States have made a toxicological profile to tell us how barium might affect our health. This is a way of understanding how toxic substances like barium can impact public health, as highlighted by the Department of Health and Human Services and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. They've found out that it's essential to keep an eye on how much barium is in our environment, especially for kids who are still growing, because the ability of barium to affect reproduction and other health issues can be harmful, particularly for children up to 18 years of age.

The effects of exposure to barium have been linked to various health issues, including heart problems and birth defects, making it a ubiquitous concern in our daily lives and a priority for regulation by the federal government. This is why the public must be aware of the potential dangers of barium, particularly in cases of severe barium poisoning, and provide public comment on its regulation and use in various industries.

Health Implications of Barium Exposure

Barium is a very harmful substance that can badly affect our bodies, including our bones, teeth, heart, nerves, and stomach.

In the big chart of elements that scientists use, called the periodic table, barium is located right beneath calcium. This means barium and calcium look quite similar in their outer parts, with the same number of tiny particles called electrons.

Because they look alike, barium can sneakily replace calcium in our bodies. Calcium is essential because it helps our bones stay strong and is involved in blood work. It helps our muscles relax, helps our body use a particular sugar controller called insulin, and is critical in ensuring our muscles and nerves work together correctly.

Barium and the Heart: A Closer Look

Calcium isn't just crucial for strong bones and plays a significant role in how our hearts work. Let's dive into the ways calcium helps keep our hearts beating strong and healthy:

Muscle Power: Your heart is a powerful pump with special muscle cells. For these muscles to squeeze together and pump blood, they need calcium. Calcium jumps into action every time your heart beats, helping those muscles contract and push blood to every part of your body.

Heartbeat Messages: Our hearts need particular electricity to work correctly. Calcium helps create these electric signals that tell the heart when it's time to squeeze. These signals ensure all heart parts work together smoothly so blood flows right.

Keeping the Beat: Just like a drummer in a band keeps the music on time, calcium helps the heart maintain a steady rhythm. It ensures the heart doesn't go too fast or too slow, so your body gets the blood it needs without hiccups.

Channel Control: Inside heart cells, tiny paths called ion channels let things like sodium, potassium, and calcium move in and out. Calcium is like the manager, ensuring these channels work as they should. When everything moves correctly, the heart beats strongly and surely.

However, when there's too much barium in our bodies, it can cause trouble. Barium can weaken the heart's muscles and the walls of our blood vessels. This isn't great for the heart and can make it harder to do its job. So, while we need metals like calcium for our bodies to work well, too much of another metal, like barium, can cause problems, especially for our hearts.

Scientific Evidence of Barium's Effects

There was a study here that showed there was a correlation to barium toxic water and cardiovascular disease.


There is even a second study emulating similar results here showing exactly this “...altered cardiac contractility and excitability characteristics, the myocardial metabolic disturbances, and the hypersensitivity of the cardiovascular system to sodium pentobarbital suggest the existence of a heretofore undescribed cardiomyopathic disorder induced by chronic barium exposure. These experimental findings represent the first indication that life-long barium ingestion may have significant adverse effects on the mammalian cardiovascular system.” (Koop, 1985)


Other symptoms of barium toxicity also include  nervous system issues which can cause unsteadiness, chronic fatigue, brain fog and depression. It also can lead to tremors, weakness, anxiety, blood pressure issues, loose stool and even vomiting.

Barium damages the myelin sheath which protects the lining of the nervous system, and can bind to toxic elements such as sulphate and lead which can cause amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).


Furthermore, barium has been shown to affect other nutrients beyond calcium such as potassium, retinol, vitamin C and vitamin E.


In conclusion, barium is a metal we can find in everyday things like makeup and even at the doctor's office. But, if too much barium gets into our bodies, it can cause significant problems, especially for our hearts. Scientists have discovered that if animals like mice and rats drink water with lots of barium for a long time, their hearts can get sick.

This could happen to people, too, and that's why it's essential to ensure we keep barium out of our food and water. It's not just about the heart—barium can also make our nervous system act all wacky, which means we might feel shaky, confused, or even sad.

We need to be careful with barium because, even though you can't see it, it can hurt our bodies in lots of ways. Let's keep an eye on barium to stay heart-healthy and happy!

If you're wondering if there's too much barium in your body or if you have enough calcium, you can do something cool called a hair tissue mineral analysis (HTMA). It's a test where they check a bit of your hair to see what minerals you have. After you complete the test, you can talk to one of our nutrition experts. They're good at understanding the test results and can advise on how to stay healthy and what foods to eat. Schedule yours with us today!

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