Increases in the production of chemical substances and their release into the 76

environment have reached a stage where individuals and society in general are no 77

longer able to control their impact. The use and transformation of over 100,000 78

individual chemicals whose current locations are largely unknown has resulted 79

in intensive basic and applied research in this area. Some of these chemicals 80

are elements, especially heavy metals, which are found in various forms in the 81

environment. 82

The positions and classification of the chemical elements in the classical 83

periodic system (table) of the elements (PSE) do not enable us to infer how neces- 84

sary these elements are to organism function, or whether they are acutely or 85

chronically toxic to living organisms. This is due to the fact that the PSE is 86

based purely on the physiochemical properties of the elements. However, in the 87

past few years a "biological system of the elements" (BSE) has been established 88

that primarily considers aspects of basic biochemical and physiological research. 89

These include: 90

• The relationships between elements within individual organisms, expressed as 91 linear correlation coefficients 92

• The physiological functions of individual elements, paying attention to evolu- 93 tionary development during the emergence of organic life from the inorganic 94 environment 95

• The forms of individual elements and their compounds taken up by living 96 organisms.. 97

With respect to their effect on the flow of matter and of energy in the food chain, 98

plants represent an important link between the atmosphere and the soil on the one 99

hand and between consumers from the first to the highest order (animals and 100

humans) on the other. Frequently, pollutants are introduced into the food chain via 101

plants that have taken them up from the soil or the atmosphere, and these pollutants 102

often cause irreversible damage to individual organisms or to entire communities as 103

a result of accumulation and exclusion processes. Therefore highest priority on the 104

control of the influence on soil chemistry and microbial activities has to be given 105

in the future. 106

- Evolution of life from inorganic to organic compounds

from \ salt water \ to fresh water systems

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