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Heavy Metals Panel Blood Tests

Last updated Oct. 11, 2015

Laboratory testing is often essential for a accurate diagnosis.

What are the other Names for this Test? (Equivalent Terms)

  • Heavy Metals Panel of Blood
  • Toxic Metals Panel Blood Test
  • Toxic Metals Panel of Blood

What is Heavy Metals Panel Blood Tests? (Background Information)

  • Heavy metals are a loosely defined group of elements associated with numerous diseases and disorders. The most common heavy metals are nickel, cobalt, chromium, arsenic, iron, zinc, copper, selenium, silver, antimony, thallium, mercury, aluminum, and lead
  • Heavy metals are generally obtained through environmental exposure. Common sources of heavy metals include manufacturing byproducts, paints, solvents, air, water, and soil pollutants
  • Some heavy metals are required by the body in trace amounts. These include iron, selenium, copper, molybdenum, and zinc. Other heavy metals, such as aluminum, lead, mercury, and arsenic, are not required and are generally harmful
  • Exposure to more heavy metals than the body is capable of detoxifying can result in various adverse effects. These include cancer, neurological disease, and developmental problems. Heavy metals may also pass on from a mother to her baby during pregnancy
  • Factors important to a heavy metal’s potential for causing diseases or disorders include dose, type and duration of exposure, and the individual’s age and health status
  • Heavy Metals Panel Blood Tests are used to assess the levels of several common heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, and chromium, in the body. It is used to diagnose heavy metal poisoning and its resulting adverse effects
  • The test can be also used to determine if poisoning due to heavy metals has been the cause of death, during a forensic autopsy

What are the Clinical Indications for performing the Heavy Metals Panel Blood Tests?

Following are the clinical indications for performing the Heavy Metals Panel Blood Tests:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Paleness
  • Fatigue
  • Altered mental status
  • Horizontal lines on the nails (Mees’ lines)
  • Miscarriage

How is the Specimen Collected for Heavy Metals Panel Blood Tests?

Following is the specimen collection process for Heavy Metals Panel Blood Tests:

Sample required: Blood

Process of obtaining blood sample in adults:

  • A band is wrapped around the arm, 3-4 inches above the collection site (superficial vein that lies within the elbow pit)
  • The site is cleaned with 70% alcohol in an outward spiral, away from the zone of needle insertion
  • The needle cap is removed and is held in line with the vein, pulling the skin tight
  • With a small and quick thrust, the vein is penetrated using the needle
  • The required amount of blood sample is collected, by pulling the plunger of the syringe out slowly
  • The wrap band is removed, gauze is placed on the collection site, and the needle is removed
  • The blood is immediately transferred into the blood container, which has the appropriate preservative/clot activator/anti-coagulant
  • The syringe and the needle are disposed into the appropriate “sharp container” for safe and hygienic disposal

Preparation required: No special preparation is needed prior to the test.

What is the Significance of the Heavy Metals Panel Blood Tests Result?

The significance of the Heavy Metals Panel Blood Test result is explained:

  • High levels of a heavy metal in blood may indicate that heavy metal poisoning has occurred
  • Low levels of a heavy metal in blood may indicate that heavy metal poisoning has not occurred 

The laboratory test results are NOT to be interpreted as results of a "stand-alone" test. The test results have to be interpreted after correlating with suitable clinical findings and additional supplemental tests/information. Your healthcare providers will explain the meaning of your tests results, based on the overall clinical scenario.

Additional and Relevant Useful Information:

  • Despite changes in policy and law, even today, lead and arsenic are found in paint, soil, pipes, and various other fixtures

Certain medications that you may be currently taking may influence the outcome of the test. Hence, it is important to inform your healthcare provider, the complete list of medications (including any herbal supplements) you are currently taking. This will help the healthcare provider interpret your test results more accurately and avoid unnecessary chances of a misdiagnosis.

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?

Please visit our Laboratory Procedures Center for more physician-approved health information:


References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Lab Tests Online (2013, May 30). Retrieved May 15, 2015 from http://labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/heavy-metals/

Schnell, Z. B., Van, L. A., & Kranpitz, T. R. (2003). Davis's Comprehensive handbook of laboratory and diagnostic tests: With nursing implications. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis. 

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: May 15, 2015
Last updated: Oct. 11, 2015