Arsenic, Blood

The following is a list of what is included in the item above. Click the test(s) below to view what biomarkers are measured along with an explanation of what the biomarker is measuring.

Also known as: Arsenic Blood

Arsenic, Blood

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The Arsenic, Blood test contains 1 test with 1 biomarker.

Brief Description: The Arsenic Blood test is a diagnostic examination designed to measure the levels of arsenic in the blood. Arsenic is a naturally occurring element found in soil, water, and air. While it is used in a variety of industries, prolonged or excessive exposure can lead to arsenic poisoning. While small amounts of arsenic can be found in the body due to exposure from food, water, and air, elevated levels can indicate recent exposure to harmful amounts.

Collection Method: Blood Draw

Specimen Type: Whole Blood

Test Preparation: Avoid seefood consumption for 48 hours prior to sample collection.

When and Why an Arsenic Blood Test May Be Ordered

A healthcare provider might order an Arsenic Blood test when:

  • An individual shows symptoms of arsenic poisoning, which may include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dark urine, dehydration, vertigo, or delirium.
  • There's a possibility of recent acute exposure to arsenic, especially in environments where arsenic is used or released, such as certain industrial settings or areas with contaminated water.
  • To monitor the effectiveness of treatment in people known to have been exposed to high levels of arsenic.

What the Arsenic Blood Test Checks For

The primary aim of the Arsenic Blood test is to:

  • Detect Arsenic Levels: The test determines the concentration of arsenic in the blood, providing insight into whether someone has been recently exposed to potentially toxic levels.

Other Lab Tests Ordered Alongside the Arsenic Blood Test

When an Arsenic Blood test is ordered, it's usually part of a broader evaluation of toxic exposure and its potential health effects. Here are some tests commonly ordered alongside it:

  1. Complete Blood Count (CBC):

    • Purpose: To evaluate overall blood health.
    • Why Is It Ordered: Arsenic toxicity can cause abnormalities in blood cells, including anemia and leukopenia (low white blood cell count).
  2. Urinalysis:

    • Purpose: To analyze various components of urine.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To assess kidney function and to check for the presence of arsenic in urine, as it is a primary route of elimination for the metal.
  3. Kidney Function Test:

    • Purpose: To assess kidney function.
    • Why Is It Ordered: Arsenic can be toxic to the kidneys, and these tests can help evaluate any impact on renal function.
  4. Liver Function Test:

    • Purpose: To assess liver health.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To evaluate liver function, as the liver is involved in detoxification and can be affected by arsenic toxicity.
  5. Electrolyte Panel:

    • Purpose: To measure the levels of key electrolytes in the blood.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To check for electrolyte imbalances, which can occur in response to heavy metal poisoning and renal impairment.
  6. 24-Hour Urine Collection for Heavy Metals:

    • Purpose: To assess the excretion of heavy metals over a 24-hour period.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To provide a more comprehensive assessment of arsenic and other heavy metal exposure and elimination.

These tests, when ordered alongside an Arsenic Blood test, provide a comprehensive evaluation of the individual's exposure to arsenic and its potential health effects. They are crucial for diagnosing arsenic poisoning, assessing the extent of exposure, monitoring the body's response to exposure, and guiding appropriate treatment and intervention strategies. The specific combination of tests will depend on the individual’s symptoms, known or suspected exposure history, and overall health status.

Conditions or Diseases that Require an Arsenic Blood Test

  • Arsenic Poisoning: This condition can arise from chronic exposure to elevated levels of arsenic, leading to multi-organ problems.
  • Peripheral Neuropathy: Prolonged exposure to arsenic can lead to nerve damage, leading to symptoms such as numbness or tingling in the hands and feet.

Usage of Arsenic Blood Test Results by Health Care Providers

  • Diagnosis: If there are elevated levels of arsenic in the blood, this can confirm a diagnosis of recent arsenic exposure or poisoning.

  • Treatment Monitoring: Once diagnosed and treatment begins, repeated testing can monitor its effectiveness and determine if arsenic levels are decreasing.

  • Guidance for Further Treatment: Based on the levels of arsenic and accompanying symptoms, healthcare providers can decide on further interventions, which may include chelation therapy to bind and eliminate the arsenic or recommendations for avoiding future exposures.

In summary, the Arsenic Blood test plays a critical role in identifying recent exposures to arsenic, guiding treatment strategies, and monitoring the success of interventions. It's crucial for both diagnosing arsenic poisoning and ensuring that treatment efforts are effective.

Most Common Questions About the Arsenic Blood test:

Purpose and Indications of the Arsenic Blood Test

Why is the Arsenic Blood test ordered?

The Arsenic Blood test is often ordered to determine whether an individual has been exposed to toxic levels of arsenic. It's crucial for diagnosing arsenic poisoning, which can arise from various sources, including contaminated water, industrial exposure, and certain pesticides.

What conditions or symptoms might lead a doctor to order the Arsenic Blood test?

Symptoms of arsenic poisoning can vary, but they may include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dark urine, dehydration, vertigo, and delirium. Chronic exposure can lead to skin changes, such as pigmentation and thickening, as well as numbness in the extremities.

Interpreting the Results

What do elevated levels of arsenic in the blood indicate?

Elevated levels of arsenic in the blood suggest recent exposure to the metalloid. It's important to note that arsenic is excreted in the urine, so if someone has a long-term exposure, a urine test might be more indicative than a blood test.

Are there different forms of arsenic, and do they have different health implications?

Yes, arsenic can be found in two main forms: organic and inorganic. Organic arsenic is typically less harmful and can be found in certain foods, like seafood. Inorganic arsenic, which is found in some pesticides, industrial pollutants, and contaminated drinking water, is more toxic and poses significant health risks.

Implications and Management

If the Arsenic Blood test indicates high levels, what steps might be taken to treat or manage this exposure?

If high arsenic levels are detected, the first step is to identify and eliminate the source of exposure. Chelation therapy, using agents like dimercaprol or DMSA, might be considered to help remove arsenic from the body. It's also important to monitor kidney and liver functions, as these organs can be affected by arsenic toxicity.

What are the long-term health impacts of arsenic exposure?

Chronic exposure to arsenic can lead to a variety of health problems. These include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, skin conditions, respiratory issues, and an increased risk of certain cancers, particularly skin, bladder, and lung cancers.

Test Mechanisms and Specifics

If someone lives in an area with a known risk of arsenic contamination, how frequently should they consider having an Arsenic Blood test?

For individuals living in high-risk areas, regular monitoring is essential. The frequency will depend on the specific risk level and any symptoms presented. Some might need bi-annual tests, while others might be tested annually.

How can one prevent exposure to harmful levels of arsenic?

Prevention strategies include drinking water from safe sources, avoiding areas known for industrial contamination, and being cautious with the use of older pesticides that might contain arsenic. If one's occupation involves potential exposure, using appropriate protective equipment is crucial.

Additional Information

Apart from drinking water and industrial sources, are there other common sources of arsenic exposure?

Yes, other than water and industrial sources, arsenic can be found in certain foods, especially in some types of fish and shellfish. However, as mentioned, the form in seafood is often organic and is considered less harmful than inorganic arsenic. Some older wood preservatives and certain traditional medicines might also contain arsenic.

How do natural disasters, like floods, impact arsenic levels in drinking water?

Natural disasters, particularly floods, can lead to the disruption of natural arsenic sediments. This can result in increased arsenic levels in drinking water sources, posing a health risk to communities relying on these sources. Monitoring water quality after such events is crucial.

We advise having your results reviewed by a licensed medical healthcare professional for proper interpretation of your results.

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