Sweating is a particularly good way of eliminating a class of toxins known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs). These include solvents, pesticides and fumigants - one of these pesticides being DDT, now banned in many countries. A study with 20 volunteers found that sweat contained a range of POPs, including DDT, DDE, endrin, endosulfan and methoxychlor. Sweat samples showed higher levels of POPs than blood or urine samples, which suggests that it may be the ideal way to detoxify from them. Some, such as DDT, were not found during blood or urine tests! Inconsistent, poor detoxification could mean that these are lingering inside the body, causing small but accumulating amounts of damage.
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Heavy metals are also of a great concern to many people. Once again, a study showed that many of these were excreted through sweat more than anywhere else. On average, when compared to urine, sweat contained 24 times more cadmium, 19 times more nickel, 16 times more lead and nearly triple the amount of aluminum. Sweat was more effective than urine at removing 14 of the 18 heavy metals. While any physical activity can make you sweat, even swimming, there is a difference between infrared and steam saunas in terms of their effects on heavy metal detoxification. Sweat from infrared saunas was found to contain more bismuth, cadmium, chromium, mercury and uranium. Steam saunas had more aluminum, arsenic, copper, cobalt, manganese, nickel, tin, thallium and lead. Overall, working up a sweat is worth smelling a bit and needing a shower afterwards. Just research the effects of these heavy metals!