A urine lead test measures lead excretion from the body over 24 hours, It may be done both before and after a “provocation” compound is ingested. A provocation compound increases the excretion of a substance.
Taking the urine lead test before the provocation compound is ingested has been shown to cause the excretion of lead in the urine whether or not there are high levels of lead in the body. When the provocation compound is consumed, there will be an increase in the amount of lead in the urine of up to six times the normal unprovoked level. Therefore, the level is set high – at >125 mcg for a 24-hour collection. A blood test for lead is the most accurate test for lead in the body.
Pregnant women may experience premature birth and the birth of low birth weight babies or babies with developmental problems if their lead levels are high. Lead crosses the placenta and deposits into the developing child. In adults, there are effects on the heart, kidneys, and on reproduction.
Normal Ranges for Lead in mcg/sample urine collection in 24 hours:
All ages: 0-4 mcg/specimen is normal excretion without provocation compound. With the provocation compound ingested, a level of <125 mcg lead excreted in the urine in a 24-hour sample is not associated with significant lead exposure.
Critical Range: >125 mcg lead excretion in a 24-hour sample is associated with lead toxicity symptoms.
Low lead levels are never a health issue.
High levels of lead in the body cause toxic effects on the nervous system and in the kidneys. They also interfere with the synthesis of heme in the body. Depending on how high the levels of lead are, the absorption of calcium, magnesium and zinc may become impaired. Lead also causes negative effects on memory and thinking processes, and how nerves work in the body.
Children, babies and pregnant women are most at risk for developing health problems due to lead accumulation. In children, anemia, hearing problems, stunted growth, low IQ, hyperactivity, behavior problems and learning problems are frequently correlated with higher levels of lead in the body.
Some specific causes of high urine lead levels might be associated with:
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