Lead, Urine

Optimal Result: 0 - 29 ug/L.

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.



  1. https://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com/test-catalog/Clinical+and+Interpretive/8600
  2. https://www.healthlabs.com/lead-testing-urine
  3. https://www.epa.gov/lead/learn-about-lead 
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/publications/leadandpregnancy2010.pdf

What does it mean if your Lead, Urine result is too low?

Low lead levels are never a health issue.

What does it mean if your Lead, Urine result is too high?

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: 

  • PICA, the compulsive eating of items such as high-lead paint chips (especially paint used in homes before 1978)
  • The consumption of contaminated water, such as from lead pipes that leach the toxic element
  • High levels of lead in breast milk, passed on to the infant
  • Eating acidic foods on lead-glazed ceramic pottery, especially pottery from Mexico
  • The use of contaminated Ayurvedic, Chinese or Indian herbs in any form
  • Contaminated toys
  • Consumption of chapulines (grasshoppers) from Mexico, as discovered by the California Department of Health Services in 2003.
  • Regular ingestion of game meat whereby hunters used lead ammunition
  • Hobbies such as hunting, target practice, stained glass creation, casting bronzes, refinishing furniture, jewelry making, electronics, and glass-blowing.
  • Living near or working in a lead mine, smelter, or battery-recycling plant or with someone who works in the lead industry 
  • Drinking beverages such as wine from leaded crystal glasses
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