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  QUESTION: Interpretation & follow-up for 24 hour urine toxic metal test, 17 May 2005, British Columbia Canada

I had a 24 hour urine toxic metal test done in the USA. My urine lead exceeds three times the upper limit per the reference population. My questions: How does this test compare to hair element analysis? How can I find out where the lead has come from? I eat healthy, (fresh vegies and fruit, distilled water) I am 66 years young and wonder if the lead accumulated over many years or just in the last time. Your website is very informative, thank you for your efforts. Marie-Luise.
ANSWER: 17 May 2005

Dear Marie-Luise,

it would make it far easier to answer your email if I had a few more details on the type of test used and who administered it. If it was a colour-change test that you administered yourself, then you would need to ask the manufacturer for an interpretation, specifically asking for a description of the "reference population." If it was a colour-change test administered by a health practitioner, then the health practitioner would be the one to ask for the interpretation. If it was a straightforward laboratory analysis for lead on all the urine collected in 24 hours, then the doctor who ordered that test should give you an interpretation and if it was a laboratory analysis for lead on all the urine collected in 24 hours following the administration of a chelating agent (this is known as a urine chelation challenge test), then again, the doctor that administered the drug and ordered the analysis should interpret the results.

The similarity as far as I can tell between colour-change urine toxic metal tests and hair trace mineral analysis for lead is the almost complete lack of information provided on the "reference population" so that it is really quite impossible to say what the result really means. Who are you being compared to? Nobody knows. How many people are in the reference population and what was their lead exposure? When were they tested? Prior to leaded gasoline being banned or after? etc.

The best way to determine whether you have recently been exposed to lead is to have a blood lead test which your doctor can order. If the result is low then you know your exposure is not recent so you need not waste time and money searching for lead sources in the places you currently frequent/live/work. Even if your blood lead level is currently elevated, the actual lead may have entered your body many years ago and may be being recirculated now out of the bone stores.

Alternative doctors with training in heavy metal assessment and treatment are the best answer if your blood lead level is not currently elevated. A urine chelation challenge test result can be used as a basis on which the doctor will decide whether chelation treatment, far-infrared sauna or other alternative treatments will be beneficial in your case. I hope this helps. I'd be interested to hear back from you. Have you had a look at our fact sheet "Lead, Ageing and Death" - is this why you had the urine test done? Do you have any symptoms from "Health Impacts of Lead Poisoning - A Preliminary Listing of The Health Effects & Symptoms of Lead Poisoning"

Let me know how you go.
Yours Sincerely
Elizabeth O'Brien

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