13th July 1767. Chelating Agents.
Chelating is the process of ridding the body of arsenic, mercury, lead, antimony and other toxic, heavy-metal elements.(1)
A healthy body besides organic elements, also needs the two metals iron and copper, too much can result in toxicity requiring Chelation.
The ill-effects of lead on the human body was high-lighted Today in 1767 when Sir George Baker presented a Paper to the College of Physicians on aspects of lead poisoning.
This not unnaturally caused a rebuttal of the charge from those affected in West-Country cider making which commonly used lead vessels.(2)
Wider use of lead came with leaded paints and other uses in households and industry requiring a Chelating Agent to rid the body of the toxicity.
The binding or sequestering of toxic metals such as Arsenic in the body was developed at Oxford University in WWII as an antidote against Lewisite, an Arsenic-based, poison gas.
The organic compound Dimercaprol, British anti-Lewisite (BAL) works by Sulphur atoms in BAL Groups strongly bonding to the Arsenic in Lewisite, forming water soluble compounds that enter the bloodstream to be removed by the kidneys in urine. As with all medication there are severe side effects.
The compound has also been used in treating mercury, lead, antimony and other toxic metal poisoning.
One genetic condition where copper builds up in the body-Wilson’s Disease-tends to use the chelator, Penicillamine, instead of Dimercaprol.(3)
In everyday life shampoos use the Chelating Process whereby the metallic elements magnesium and calcium are locked-up to soften the water.
(1) Variation of risk depend on whether ingested, inhaled or whether it comes in contact with the skin.
(2) Lead was banned in paints in the UK in 1992. It has been linked to violent crime and there is the residual problem today of old paint on walls, in toys and lead pipes.
Baker’s son by 1818 reported that lead-caused colic was hardly known to exist.
(3) Copper is a trace element vital for functioning of organs and metabolism and neutralises free radicals.
Penicillamine is a metabolite of Penicillin, but has no antibiotic properties and is used as a chelating agent in the treatment of Wilson’s Disease by binding or sequestering copper and excreting via the urine.
Ref: Who named it? Medical Eponyms.
Ref: Lead Poisoning. Robert Root.
Ref: Julie Carpenter article 10.1.2013. Daily Express.
Ref: poison.org/chelation-therapy./Pic Image.