Optimal Result: 0 - 1 ug/L.

Barium is a silvery-white metal found in nature. Barium compounds are used to make paint, bricks, tiles, glass, and rubber; used by the oil and gas industries in drilling muds; and sometimes used by doctors to perform medical tests.

Route of exposure:

Barium is found in most soils and foods at low levels. Barium builds up in fish and other aquatic plants and animals. People are exposed to barium by drinking water and eating food that contains barium, and breathing very low levels of barium in air.

Health effects:

The health problems from different barium compounds depend on how well the compound dissolves in water. Barium compounds that do not dissolve well in water, such as those used in medical tests, generally are not harmful. The barium compounds that do dissolve well in water can harm people. Eating food and drinking water with high levels of barium compounds that easily dissolve in water for a short time can cause stomach irritation, higher blood pressure, muscle weakness, or damage to the liver, kidney, heart, and spleen. We do not know the effects in people who have ingested low levels of barium over a long time but lab animals that ate barium over a long period had high blood pressure and changes in the heart. The few animal studies that have been done to determine whether barium causes cancer have produced unclear results.

What does it mean if your Barium result is too high?

Route of exposure:

Barium is found in most soils and foods at low levels. Barium builds up in fish and other aquatic plants and animals. People are exposed to barium by drinking water and eating food that contains barium, and breathing very low levels of barium in air.

Health effects:

The health problems from different barium compounds depend on how well the compound dissolves in water. Barium compounds that do not dissolve well in water, such as those used in medical tests, generally are not harmful. The barium compounds that do dissolve well in water can harm people. Eating food and drinking water with high levels of barium compounds that easily dissolve in water for a short time can cause stomach irritation, higher blood pressure, muscle weakness, or damage to the liver, kidney, heart, and spleen. We do not know the effects in people who have ingested low levels of barium over a long time but lab animals that ate barium over a long period had high blood pressure and changes in the heart. The few animal studies that have been done to determine whether barium causes cancer have produced unclear results.

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