Heavy metal: a misused term?

Olivier Pourret*, Jean-Claude Bollinger, Andrew Hursthouse

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)
18 Downloads (Pure)


The use of the term “heavy metal” is regularly questioned by the scientific community. Here, we followed the evolution (1970-2020) in the number of published papers including this term in their title. Thus, we can evidence a continuous, albeit sometimes stabilizing, increase especially in environmental journals. After several other warning opinions, we propose that it should be replaced in the scientific literature by terms like “metal”, “metalloid”, “trace metal elements” or “potentially toxic element”.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)466-471
Number of pages6
JournalActa Geochimica
Early online date25 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2021


  • heavy metals
  • trace metal elements
  • metal
  • metalloid
  • potentially toxic elements


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