Heavy metal poisoning occurs when your body’s soft tissues absorb too much of a particular metal. The most common metals that the human body can absorb in toxic amounts are mercury, lead, cadmium and arsenic. You might be exposed to high concentrations of these metals from food, air or water pollution, as well as medicine, food containers with improper coating, industrial exposure, or lead-based paint.
Sudden, severe heavy metal exposure can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and abdominal pain. Chronic heavy metal exposure over time may cause various symptoms as a result of damage to body organs, and may increase the risk of cancer.
Note that a blood lead level of 5 µg/dL (0.24umol/L) or more is a notifiable condition to the local health department.*
The most common metals that the human body can absorb in toxic amounts are mercury, lead, cadmium and arsenic. You might be exposed to high concentrations of these metals from food, air or water pollution, as well as medicine, food containers with improper coating, industrial exposure, or lead-based paint.
If untreated, excess lead in the body can do great damage, even if a person has no obvious symptoms or problems. The function of the kidneys may also be greatly reduced, and the ability of nerves to conduct messages quickly through the body. Lead can also harm the reproductive organs and cause miscarriages and birth defects.
The small amounts of mercury the general population are exposed to do not generally cause health concerns but people who are exposed to dangerous concentrations or are exposed chronically to mercury (such as those who work with 'heavy metals' in their occupation) may have mercury-related symptoms and complications.
Arsenic poisoning is a medical condition that occurs due to elevated levels of arsenic in the body. If arsenic poisoning occurs over a brief period of time symptoms may include vomiting, abdominal pain, encephalopathy, and watery diarrhoea that contains blood.
Cadmium is a heavy metal with many uses, including the manufacture of rechargeable batteries. Exposure to cadmium can affect the kidneys, lungs and bones. Cigarette smoke contains high levels of cadmium.
Fast from all food and drink (other than water) for at least 8 hours, and no more than 12 hours prior to your blood test.
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