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QUESTION: Where would I get an accurate test for lead? How much do they cost? 06 Jun 2008 California, USA


First of all, I'd like to thank you for your informative website...well done! Secondly, I have a question. Where would I get an accurate test for lead? How much do they cost?

Kind regards‍,

ANSWER: 06 Jun 2008

Dear Madam,

If you mean: where would I get an accurate test for lead recently absorbed into the body, then the answer is: ask the doctor for a blood lead test. If you mean: where would I get an accurate test for lead in paint, the answer is: ask the health department for the contact details of registered labs in your area that are certified to test lead in paint and ask them how to collect and send the sample without contaminating it, and then send it to the lab for lead analysis. Your health department may also offer x-ray fluorescence (XRF) testing but the sampling must be done by a licensed professional (using a portable XRF machine) who comes to your home to test various samples (but not blood) - and it is accurate. For other types of non-biological samples (dust-wipes, water, ceramic ware, toys, other consumer products, etc) laboratory analysis is the most accurate but XRF may be used for testing lead in solids.

I hope this helps but just in case you were actually asking how to test lead in the body if the lead poisoning occurred earlier in life, I will also send you our Info Pack - Case Management after Earlier Lead Poisoning.

All the best

Yours Sincerely

Elizabeth O'Brien

EMAIL TWO Sent: Friday, 6 June, 2008 11:51 PM Subject: Info Pack 45 - Case management after earlier lead poisoning

Dear Madam,

I thought you may also be interested in our most recently put together Info Pack. See below - just ignore the stuff about classrooms if you're not actually at school!!

It is ALWAYS useful to know the current blood lead level even when you suspect that a person is no longer exposed to much lead today. A blood lead test result can demonstrate that despite no obvious sources or pathways of current lead poisoning, lead is indeed currently being taken up. Additionally, the movement of lead out of the bone stores and back into the bloodstream is a complex business and not all the provocations for that movement are fully understood. So in every situation where a person may have been lead poisoned earlier, there should always be a blood lead test done now.

Depending on the result, and the person's (or other family members') known previous blood lead results, and the known history of lead exposure, there will be differing recommended responses in following up the current blood lead result.

The official policy coming from all the doctors and professors on The LEAD Group's Technical Advisory Board is that apart from nutritional intervention and identifying sources and removing the sources or removing the person from the sources (in order to prevent further poisoning), nothing else can safely be done for a lead poisoned person unless they need chelation because the blood lead level of a child is above 45 g/dL or of an adult is above 70 g/dL. This position is well-supported by the following guidance documents from the United States - the centre of the universe when it comes to lead poisoning prevention policies:

Table 3.1. Summary of Recommendations for Children with Confirmed (Venous) Elevated Blood Lead Levels, and Table 3.4. Schedule for Follow-Up Blood Lead Testing in "Managing Elevated Blood Lead Levels Among Young Children: Recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention" Chapter 3. Medical Assessment and Interventions Prepared by James R. Roberts, MD, MPH, and J. Routt Reigart, MD (also accessible via

Table 1. Health-Based Management Recommendations for Lead-Exposed Adults and Table Table 2. Health-Based Medical Surveillance Recommendations for Lead-Exposed Workers From "Recommendations for Medical Management of Adult Lead Exposure" Michael J. Kosnett, Richard P. Wedeen, Stephen J. Rothenberg, Karen L. Hipkins, Barbara L. Materna, Brian S. Schwartz, Howard Hu, and Alan Woolf Environ Health Perspect. 2007;115(3):463. This article is part of the mini-monograph "Lead Exposure and Health Effects in Adults: Evidence, Management, and Implications for Policy."  (11/4/07)

However, apart from myself, the members of the Technical Advisory Board don't sit here all day answering enquiries about what ELSE can be done. So, I have the pragmatic approach that, IF you can find a doctor you trust (preferably one who has experience treating lead poisoned people), then you should work with them to further manage the blood lead level and possibly get some of the lead out of the body, in the hope that you might do no harm and you might reduce the risks of the various adverse health effects associated with elevated blood lead levels.

To this end, I have noted in the database, every doctor who has ever been of use to one of our inquirers, and I advise people to see one of these doctors as well as any doctor trained by the American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM) or the Society for Orthomolecular Health Medicine (OHM) to carry out chelation therapy and/or urine chelation challenge testing. For example, according to "Orthomolecular medicine describes the practice of preventing and treating disease by providing the body with optimal amounts of substances which are natural to the body." At you will find orthomolecular practitioners who have requested to be listed on the website. They may be physicians, other members of health professions or counsellors.

The Society for Orthomolecular Health Medicine (OHM) website includes and the occasional practitioner in the US country list there mentions chelation.

ACAM is a medical society devoted to the education of medical professionals. Go to
for the searchable list of doctors trained to administer chelation therapy.

As for the extra-hard cases of people who weren't blood lead tested at the time of their lead exposure, we always recommend having a blood lead test NOW to determine that the worst lead exposure has indeed ended - as demonstrated by a blood lead level below 2 g/dL - and secondly, if baby teeth have fallen out and are available, these can be sent to the NMS - National Medical Services, Inc. (phone 2156574900 or free call USA 800-522-6671). NMS offers tooth lead testing as a "special Request" test. They do not however work with private individuals. A person would need to either go through a Dr., Lawyer or another lab in order for NMS to do the testing. Contact NMS at;; 2300 Stratford Avenue Willow Grove PA 19090-4195.

Thirdly, if a person happens to be in or going to the United States or Canada, they can undergo x-ray fluorescence (XRF) testing of their bones for lead. Contact details are:

Prof David Chettle, Professor, Medical Physics & Applied Radiation Sciences, Department of Physics and Astronomy, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, phone +1 905 525 9140 ext. 27340

Prof Howard Hu, Director and Professor of Public Health Sciences, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, phone +1 416 978 8989

Fourthly, I refer people to an ACAM or OHM-trained doctor or dentist who knows how to interpret and respond to the results and who will carry out urine chelation challenge testing.

Once a person has been found to be lead poisoned, isotopic fingerprinting is an invaluable tool in identifying the mine source and to an extent the pathways of the lead exposure. See for example "Report on Lead Isotopic Analyses of Samples Associated with the Esperance Lead Investigation" by Access Macquarie Limited: Professor Brian Gulson & Michael Korsch, CSIRO Division of Petroleum Resources, at

Even if a child's exposure to lead is never proven but is still suspected, and if the child appears to have been affected by lead and they are still at school, then the attached article "The Early Lead Poisoned Child In The Classroom: Symptomatology and Intervention for School Psychologists and School-Based Personnel" is well worth a read. Parents can then provide a copy to their child's teachers and ask for an interview to discuss its recommendations.

Lastly, having advised so many people who have to deal with earlier lead poisoning, I have found that many of them benefit from being in an egroup with other people who are in a similar situation. Egroup members can email all the other members via one simple email address, and ask each other questions and relate their case histories in order to get support and advice on whatever issues are relevant at the moment. The following egroups have been set up for this purpose and you are very welcome to go to the website and join (using your YahooID), any that are relevant:

  1. Plumbism & Autism Network (PAN) Autism-Lead Egroup
  2. LeadWorkers E-group
  3. Leaded Kids egroup for parents, teachers, doctors, carers of lead poisoned children
  4. Lead Poisoned Adults Egroup (LPAE)
  5. LPSCs - The Lead Point Source Communities egroup for people living or concerned about lead exposure in lead mining, smelting, manufacturing or recycling communities

Alternatively, if you don't have a (free) YahooID and don't want to get one, you can contact me and I will happily join you up to any of our egroups.

I hope all this helps and I look forward to hearing of your progress.

Yours Sincerely

Elizabeth O'Brien

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