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Heavy Metals Exposure & Assessment

By: Rachel Lee, May 17, 2023

There are various ways to assess your exposure and circulation of heavy metals in both your environment and your body.

Things to take into consideration:

  1. Infrastructure and Land: Many people find that they have exposure to toxic levels of metals through their home and surrounding land. You can do basic (semi-reliable) at-home testing of windows, paint, and furniture with 3M™ LeadCheck™ Swabs but for more intensive testing of soil, pipes, etc. you should consider hiring an EPA certified firm that specializes in lead abatement and assessment.

  2. Antiques: Take a look around…Do you have copious amounts of antiques? Do you have grandkids that are using antique high chairs or cribs ? More often than we would like to admit, antique gifts from loved ones can be cause for concern for children who are mouthing things (furniture, toys, silverware, etc.).  Are you eating with antique dishes that may have been created prior to the 80s? Consider upgrading to non-toxic cookware, dinnerware, and anything that comes in contact with your food. Here’s a 2022 article from NPR that talks about one woman’s journey with lead toxicity that started with thrifting!

  3. Water: Getting your water tested can be a great first step towards finding out if you may have heavy metals (and other toxin) exposure. Quality water is essential for the body to thrive and should be prioritized whenever possible. There are many types of filters you can get for your whole home, sink, counter, and shower. The benefit of having filtered water is a degree of protection from toxins, as well as other chemicals such as pharmaceuticals, PFAS, agricultural runoff, etc.

  4. Food, Cookware,  Body Care: Lead and cadmium have been found in many household products. You can check out websites like ConsumerLabs.com and EWG’s Skin Deep to assess your products. Also, keep an eye out for recalls at your local grocery stores. Did you know that from 2021-2023 there were many baby food recalls? We often think of these foods as the cleanest available but they were tainted from soil, water, and the manufacturing processes. Some other foods to look into are rice, chocolate and cacao, and seafood.

  5. Dental Amalgams: Placement and removal, as well as teeth grinding, eating, and drinking with amalgam fillings can lead to mercury exposure.

Ok, so you’ve thought through exposure, but how do you test?

DrDeborahMD will most often add blood and/or urine testing to your labs to see what your heavy metal levels are. Our office primarily uses Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp for basic testing. For an in-depth approach (urine, blood, hair, and/or stool), we can use kits through lab companies like Genova Diagnostics, Mosaic Diagnostics (formally Great Plains Lab), and Quicksilver Scientific. The lab testing kits are often an out-of-pocket expense.

As we often discuss at NWC, each patient has a unique set of circumstances, risk factors, and history. One patient may suffer greatly from toxin exposure and another may be able to stave off the symptoms for quite sometime (or never know!). We highly suggest you take an “inventory” of your signs, symptoms, and risk factors when it comes to all toxic exposures and contact your provider if you are concerned.