Lead and Heavy Metal Testing and Treatment

Lead and Heavy Metal Testing and Treatment

Recent reports of Lead in drinking water in Flint, Michigan and Newark, NJ, have many of us worried about whether we or our children have been subject to lead and potential heavy metal poisoning.

patients medical The New York City Department of Environmental Protection found elevated levels of lead in tap water samples at some homes with lead service lines (homes built before 1961 may have lead service lines), or internal fixtures and plumbing that contain lead, or that have internal plumbing joined by lead solder (plumbing installed before 1987 may contain lead solder). This is a serious concern if you live in the New York area.

How do you get lead poisoning?

patients medicalLead poisoning occurs when you absorb too much lead by breathing or swallowing a substance with lead in it, such as paint, dust, water, or food. Lead can damage almost every organ system. In children, too much lead in the body can cause lasting problems with growth and development.

Lead primarily enters drinking water because of corrosion of lead-containing plumbing, including pipes that connect household plumbing to the city’s water mains, solder on copper pipes, and faucets.  Although regulations have been put in place to reduce the lead in plumbing, your residence may still contain plumbing and fixtures with lead content if they were installed before these rules came into effect.

patients medicalWhen water stands for several hours or more in lead service lines or plumbing systems containing lead, some lead may dissolve into the water. Lead is everywhere, including dirt, dust, new toys, and old house paint. Unfortunately, you cannot see, taste, or smell lead.

It is estimated that more than 3 million workers in the United States are at risk for toxic lead exposure.


There are many possible symptoms of lead poisoning. Lead can affect many different parts of the body. A single high dose of lead can cause severe emergency symptoms.

However, it is more common for lead poisoning to build up slowly over time. This occurs from repeated exposure to small amounts of lead. In this case, there may not be any obvious symptoms. Over time, even low levels of lead exposure can harm a child's mental development. The health problems get worse as the level of lead in the blood gets higher.

Lead is much more harmful to children than adults because it can affect children's developing nerves and brains. The younger the child, the more harmful lead can be. Unborn children are the most vulnerable.

The symptoms of lead poisoning may include:

patients medical
  • Abdominal pain and cramping (usually the first sign of a high, toxic dose of lead poison)
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Anemia
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty getting pregnant
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Hearing loss
  • Irritability
  • Loss of previous developmental skills (in young children)
  • Low appetite and energy
  • Reduced sensations
  • Very high levels of lead may cause vomiting, staggering walk, muscle weakness, seizure, or coma.

Testing for Lead:

A blood lead test can help identify whether a problem exists. Over 10 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL) is a definite concern. Levels between 2 and 10 mcg/dL should be discussed with your doctor. In many states, blood screening is recommended for young children at risk.

Testing for all Heavy Metals:

At Patients Medical, we have found that Patients who come in for potential lead level testing, frequently suffer from other forms of heavy metal poisoning also. We strongly recommend that you do a complete urine analysis for all heavy metals in your system.

patients medicalAnalysis of elements in urine provides diagnostic information on potentially toxic elements such as lead, mercury, cadmium, nickel, beryllium, arsenic and aluminum, and assessment of the efficiency of renal resorption of essential elements such as magnesium, calcium, sodium and potassium.

Urine element analysis is an invaluable tool for the diagnosis or confirmation of toxic element burden and monitoring of detoxification therapy.

Treatment for Lead and other Heavy Metals at Patients Medical:

Chelation therapy is a procedure that can remove high levels of lead that have built up in a person's body over time.

Treatment of iron, calcium, and zinc deficiencies, which are associated with increased lead absorption, is another part of treatment for lead poisoning.

patients medicalThe chelating agents used for treatment of lead poisoning are edetate disodium calcium CaNa2EDTA), dimercaprol (BAL), which are injected, and succimerand d-penicillamine, which are administered orally. Chelation therapy is used in cases of for people with blood lead levels above 25 µg/dL. Chelation infusions are administered by slow IV drip, circulating through the blood stream treating the entire arterial system removing undesirable metals from the body. Some metals such as lead, mercury cadmium and iron are poisons. All metals, even essential nutritional elements, are toxic in excess or when abnormally situated.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Adults who have had mildly high lead levels often recover without problems. In children, even mild lead poisoning can have a permanent impact on attention and IQ.

People with higher lead levels have a greater risk of long-lasting health problems. They must be followed carefully. A complete recovery from chronic lead poisoning may take months to years.

Begin Your Journey to Wellness with Patients Medical

Our job at Patients Medical is to listen, to connect the dots between a patient's medical history, symptoms, and their underlying causes. Patients Medical is a superb place for women and men to secure integrative and holistic health care from providers who give personalized care, partner with the patient to focus on the root cause of their illness, support their recovery, and help them maintain good health.

To make an appointment with one of our physicians, please call us at 1-212-794-8800. We look forward to hearing from you.

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