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Comprehensive Heavy Metals Profile, Urine Test

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About Our Comprehensive Heavy Metals Profile, Urine Test

This test profile checks for 6 types of heavy metals in the urine.

Our Comprehensive Heavy Metals Profile measures levels of the following heavy metals:

  • Arsenic
  • Cadmium
  • Cobalt
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Thallium

Creatinine levels are also tested for in this panel since normally the excretion of cadmium is proportional to creatinine. When renal damage has occurred, cadmium excretion increases relative to creatinine.

Arsenic is used in the production or pesticides and in some industrial uses.

Arsenic poisoning or overexposure may cause:

  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Seizures
  • Encephalopathy
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Brain damage
  • Edema
  • White bands on the fingernails
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Hemolysis
  • Weakness
  • Muscle aches
  • Anemia
  • Low blood pressure
  • Garlic-like breath

Cadmium poisoning can be caused by ingestion of food (like grains, cereals and leafy vegetables) and/or cigarette smoke. Occupational exposure to cadmium in metal plating, battery and plastics industries may also occur. Chronic exposure to cadmium causes accumulated renal damage.

Overexposure of cadmium may lead to:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • abdominal cramping
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Emphysema
  • Fluid within the lungs
  • Breathlessness

Cobalt is employed industrially in certain grades of steel and in tungsten carbide tools, and cobalt compounds are used as pigments in paints. In addition, cobalt is an essential element in man, supplied through dietary intake at an average of 280 μg/day.

Although cobalt is found in the general environment, overexposure typically occurs in the industrial environment, primarily through the inhalation of cobalt dust and/or fumes. Cobalt exposure can also occur as a result of ingesting medications such as cobaltous chloride. Blood is the preferred specimen for measuring acute or recent exposure.

Cobalt poisoning through chronic exposure may result in the following:

  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Cough
  • Dyspnea
  • Acute exposures are generally characterized by an allergic dermatitis

Creatinine levels are tested for since normally the excretion of cadmium is proportional to creatinine. When renal damage has occurred, cadmium excretion increases relative to creatinine.

Lead poisoning through chronic exposure is characterized by:

  • Gastrointestinal disturbance
  • Anemia
  • Insomnia
  • Weight loss
  • Motor weakness
  • Muscle paralysis
  • Neuropathy
  • Ingestion of large quantities may produce death

Lead and organic lead compounds have numerous commercial and industrial applications, use in paints, plastics, storage batteries, bearing alloys, insecticides, and ceramics. Exposure may also occur through the inhalation of dust containing lead emitted by automobile exhausts. A common source of lead exposure among children is derived through the mouthing of inanimate objects, specifically objects with paint and paint chips that contain lead. Acute lead exposure is rare; however, toxicity may occur through acute ingestion of a lead salt or acetate. Urine is suggested specimen in which chronic lead poisoning may be monitored.

Mercury poisoning has three telltale symptoms:

  • Impaired articulation
  • Irregularity of muscular action
  • Constricted visual fields

Mercury poisoning through chronic exposure to metallic and inorganic forms of mercury generally produces the following symptoms:

  • Nervousness
  • Mental fatigue
  • Tremors
  • Mucous membrane irritation

Inorganic mercury poisoning is associated primarily with the following symptoms:

  • Peripheral effects
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Tubular nephritis

Chronic inorganic mercury poisoning is an occupational disease of smelters, mercury miners, gilders, and factory workers.
Inhalation of mercury vapors may lead to:

  • Pneumonitis
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Other pulmonary symptoms

The most reliable way to measure exposure to inorganic mercury is to measure urinary mercury levels, however the correlation between urine levels and symptoms is poor. The most common nonindustrial source of mercury poisoning is the consumption of methyl mercury-contaminated fish. Organic mercury poisoning is best detected in blood, as this form of mercury is located mainly in the red blood cells.

Organic compounds predominantly affect the central nervous system (CNS) and effects may be severe and irreversible.

Additional general population exposure to mercury is from coal-fired power plants where an estimated 75 tons of mercury are emitted into the atmosphere each year.

Thallium is found in rodenticides and in creams and lotions that are used for removing hair (depilatories). Thallium overexposure can be fatal.

Ingestion of thallium may lead to:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Leg pains followed by a severe and sometimes fatal sensorimotor polyneuropathy and kidney failure
  • Alopecia (hair loss) may occur 3 weeks after poisoning
Medically Reviewed by: 2019-03-12

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