Lead (Pb)

Clinical definition of the Lead test
Lead is a heavy metal found naturally in the environment as well as in many common consumer products. Lead serves no function in the human body. However, most people have a small amount of it in their bodies because it is so prevalent in our surroundings. Lead exposure occurs when lead dust or fumes are inhaled, or when lead is ingested via contaminated hands, food, water, cigarettes or clothing. Causes of environmental contamination include industrial use of lead, such as is found in plants that process lead-acid batteries or produce lead wire or pipes, and metal recycling and foundries.
In adults, a low level of lead exposure isn't considered dangerous. However, in babies and young kids whose brains are still developing, even a small amount of lead can cause learning disabilities and behavioral problems. At higher levels, lead exposure can cause seizures, coma, and even death.

Why is the Lead test done?
The lead test is used to determine the amount of lead in the blood. This test is used to screen persons who are at risk for lead poisoning such as industrial workers and their children. It is also used to see if treatment for lead poisoning is working by measuring the amount of lead in the blood.

What are the common signs/symptoms when the Lead test is done?
Lead is much more harmful to children than adults. The younger the child, the more harmful lead can be, since it can affect the child’s mental development. Unborn children are at the highest risk.
Some of the early signs of lead poisoning include:

  • Neurological Effects
    • Fatigue
    • Irritability
    • Malaise
    • Reduced concentration
    • Hearing loss
    • Personality changes
    • Headaches
    • Depression
    • Problems with sleep
  • Gastrointestinal Effects
    • Nausea
    • Constipation
    • Diarrhea
    • Stomach aches and cramps
    • Intermittent abdominal pain
    • Loss of appetite
    • Unusual taste in the mouth
  • Reproductive Effects
    • Miscarriages/Stillbirths
    • Decreased libido
    • Reduced sperm count & motility
    • Abnormal sperm
  • Others
    • Muscle and joint pain
    • Anemia
    • Hypertension

Who should do the Lead test (Target population)?
Persons showing the above signs & symptoms and those at a high risk of exposure to the lead metal due to occupational hazard.

What should I do before the Lead test?

Specimen type

Specimen collection procedure

Preparatory instructions before the test *

Serum (Blood Sample)

Venipuncture - Collection of blood from a vein, usually from the arm.

No Fasting Required.

No other special preparations required.

*Subjects suffering from any illness or on oral or injectable medications are advised to consult their physician prior to requesting any tests or procedures.

How do I interpret my Lead test results?

Reference Range*

Interpretation

Blood

00 to 9.9 µg/dl*

No additional action

10 to 24.9 µg/dl

Identify and minimize exposure

25 to 49.9 µg/dl

Exposure removal if symptomatic

50 to 79.9 µg/dl

Immediate evaluation

80 & Above

Chelate

Urine

Less than 23 µg/L

Normal

*dl = deciliter
‘*A Reference range is a set of values which helps the healthcare professional to interpret a medical test. It may vary with age, gender, and other factors. Reference ranges may also vary between labs, in value & units depending on instruments used and method of establishment of reference ranges’

Diseases/conditions related to the Lead test

  • Plumbism

Other tests related to the Lead test

  • Zinc Test
  • Heavy Metals

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