Bromine is a chemical element in water supplies and foods such as eggs and dairy products. Even though bromine has no known health risks at low levels, high doses have been linked to liver damage, kidney failure, seizures, coma, and even death.
Bromine occurs naturally in seawater and freshwater environments. It also exists in trace amounts in air, soil, drinking water, food, and plants. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that human exposure to bromine comes mostly from ingestion or inhaling contaminated dust particles or skin contact.
The main ways people are exposed to bromine include:
Ingestion – Eating seafood, shellfish, or other foods containing bromine can get bromine into your body. You may also inhale it when breathing polluted air.
Inhalation – You can become sick when you breathe in bromine-contaminated dust, fumes, or gases. This includes working with chemicals that contain bromine, breathing bromine-tainted smoke, and breathing the exhaust fumes of cars or trucks.
Skin Contact – Bromine-containing materials can absorb bromine directly through your skin. Workers who handle these substances often develop rashes on their hands and arms.
When ingesting bromine, it travels through your bloodstream and gets stored in your tissues. Once there, bromine attacks proteins in your cells by replacing one of its chlorine atoms with a bromine atom.
This process changes the structure of the protein, so it cannot function normally. In addition, this change makes the protein more likely to break down and cause inflammation.
If you are exposed to bromine over time, your kidneys can become damaged. These problems usually don’t happen right away after exposure. Instead, they start gradually.
You might experience some immediate signs and symptoms after being exposed to bromine. These symptoms include:
The long-term health effects of bromine water exposure depend on how much you are exposed to it and how long you are exposed to it.
People who spend most of their day in an environment where bromine is present face a greater risk of developing chronic diseases than those who live in places without bromine.
Other factors that affect the amount of damage caused by bromine include the dose and frequency of exposure. For example, if you drink water with bromine every day for years, you will experience different health problems than those who drink only once yearly.
The higher the dose of bromine, the greater the chance of getting sick. However, the exact relationship between quantity and severity of illness isn’t clear.
There is various health risk that bromine poses. The following health risks are discussed in detail:
Bromine is known to be carcinogenic. It has been linked to lung cancer in both animals and humans. In laboratory tests, mice were given high bromine levels for several months. They developed lung tumors within six months.
Researchers also found that people living near industrial sites have higher lung cancer rates. People who lived closer to chemical plants had 1.8 times as many cases of lung cancer compared with those who lived further from factories.
Researchers believe that bromine may cause cancers because it irritates cells, making them grow uncontrollably.
Bromine attacks the proteins in the kidneys. The resulting damage can prevent these organs from working correctly. Bromine poisoning can result in kidney failure. A study in Japan showed that workers at a plant manufacturing bromine suffered from kidney failures.
According to reports, the employees were exposed to bromine for about 9 hours daily. Their blood levels of bromine were measured before and after their shift. After work, the level of bromine increased significantly.
This is why experts recommend keeping bromine out of the workplace. Bromine poisons the body by interfering with protein production. Protein synthesis requires large amounts of bromine. Without this essential element, the body cannot produce enough proteins. This leads to severe conditions like kidney failure.
Bromine attacks parts of the liver. When this happens, the organ does not function properly. A study published in the journal Environmental Research found that drinking brominated water over time increases the chances of developing cirrhosis, a disease that makes your liver swell up.
Scientists believe that bromine can cause cirrhosis because it disrupts the normal functions of the liver. Bromine accumulates in the liver and damages its operations. This is why scientists suggest that bromine should be removed from our environment.
Bromine causes brain tumors in lab rats. Researchers believe this occurs because bromine interferes with how specific genes control cell growth.
They think that bromine could also make brain tumors more likely in humans. Scientists aren’t sure how much bromine causes brain tumors. But they know that the more exposure there is, the worse it gets.
Bromine causes skin disorders such as psoriasis. This condition causes redness and scaly patches on the skin. People who have psoriasis often complain of itching. Some have even reported that the constant scratching leaves scars or sores on their skin.
An American woman was exposed to high bromine levels while working in an electroplating factory. She developed severe problems with her skin. She suffered from rashes that covered most of her face, arms, legs, and feet. Her doctor diagnosed her with psoriasis.
Children are especially vulnerable to bromine poisoning. Small children usually drink tap water that contains high levels of bromine. Bromine affects children’s development in different ways. For example, it can lead to mental retardation.
You can get bromine levels tested by Labme today. The Lab Me At Home Metal Toxicity Test uses ICP-MS, the gold standard for element analysis, which allows for high specificity and sensitivity to the parts-per-trillion.
Exposure to dangerous heavy metals or insufficiency of nutritional elements affects health profoundly. Testing elements in the most appropriate sample type is essential for proper assessment. The Lab Me at-home metal toxicity test is an excellent way to detect dangerous exposure.
The treatment of bromine poisoning depends on the severity of the symptoms. Mild cases of bromine poisoning require only rest. More severe cases need medical attention.
The treatment of a severe case of bromine poisoning includes
It is essential to keep bromine out of your home and workplace. You can remove bromines from drinking water using reverse osmosis systems. These systems use filters to remove harmful substances from tap water. This helps to prevent bromine poisoning from happening.
If you work in a place where bromine is used, wear protective gear. Wear rubber gloves when handling chemicals. Avoid inhaling bromine fumes. Use proper ventilation when working near bromine generators.