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Standard Heavy Metals Profile, Blood Test

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About Our Standard Heavy Metals Profile, Blood Test

This blood test measures levels of three heavy metals in the blood.

This test includes measuring levels of the following heavy metals:

  • Arsenic
  • Lead
  • Mercury

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

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
  • 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.

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