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QUESTION: Is there a blood, skin, hair etc test that can be done at home? 15/01/09   Queensland, Australia

Is there a blood, skin, hair etc test that can be done at home to get an idea of lead and other heavy metals content of an adult.

ANSWER: January 15 2009

Dear Dianne,

the answer to your question is that unless you can get a doctor to come to the home to collect blood to be sent to a lab, no blood, skin or hair lead testing can be done at home. If a person is well enough to go to the doctor's surgery, we highly recommend asking for a blood lead test. The pathology request can be marked "For Bulk Bill" resulting in an accurate assessment of current and recent lead exposure that is free-of-charge to the patient. Skin cannot usefully be tested for lead as there are no studies of health effects which are based on skin lead results. Similarly, though you can ask a health practitioner to collect a hair sample for sending to a lab, nearly all studies of health effects are based on blood lead levels so, it remains the most useful and interpretable test. A blood lead test is absolutely the best test to begin with! Let me know the blood lead result OR the reason that you are concerned about lead exposure (and when the exposure occurred if it is not current) and I'll be happy to make more recommendations about testing.

All the best

Yours Sincerely

Elizabeth O'Brien

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