Trace elements can be essential or toxic. Trace element toxicity can occur as a result of occupational exposure, environmental exposure or iatrogenic toxicity. Any organ can be affected: the central nervous system, liver, kidneys, muscles or circulatory system. All elements can be toxic in excess. Those most commonly associated with toxicity include: aluminium, lead, arsenic, cadmium, mercury and thallium.
Lead is a non-essential element and toxic effects occur through its accumulation in the body, reflecting its extensive use in silver smelting, paint production, jewellery making, building construction, petrol use and its ubiquitous presence in the water supply. Acute poisoning is now uncommon, however, chronic poisoning may often be due to industrial exposure, ingestion of lead-containing paint/contaminated dirt in children, or ingestion of contaminated alternative herbal therapy.
Symptoms include abdominal pain, fatigue, weakness, anaemia, basophilic stippling of erythrocytes and peripheral neuropathy.
Sample Required Whole Blood: EDTA Trace element tube (Royal blue cap), EDTA (lavender top) or heparin (green top). Urine: sterile universal or plain 24 hr collection
Sample Volume 0.5 mL
Turnaround Time 2 weeks
Occupational exposure maximum retesting interval guidance:
<1.4 umol/L (<30 ug/dL) Repeat within 12 mths
1.4-1.9 umol/L (30-40 ug/dL) Repeat every 6 mths
1.9-2.4 umol/L (40-50 ug/dL) Repeat every 3 mths
2.4-2.9 umol/L (50-60 ug/dL) Repeat every 3 mths
>2.9 umol/L (>60 ug/dL) Repeat at the doctors discretion but not more than 3 months.
Women of reproductive capacity and young persons whose exposure to lead is significant should have their blood lead concentrations measured at intervals of at least every three months.