Heavy metals - urine

Last updated: Thursday, 08, April, 2004

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Random or 24 hour urine collected into a trace element free container.

If the exposure to a heavy metal is not recent, testing should be done following intravenous calcium EDTA infusion.


Atomic absorption spectrophotometry, inductively coupled plasma spectrometry, spectro­photometry.

Lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium are measured routinely; others eg, thallium and uranium are usually assayed only on specific request.

Reference Interval

Arsenic: <2.0 µmol/L
Cadmium: <40 nmol/L
Copper: <1 µmol/L
Lead: <0.4 µmol/L
Manganese: <3 µmol/L
Mercury: <0.1 µmol/L
Thallium: <50 nmol/L


Monitoring of patients at risk from occupational or environmental exposure.

Suspected poisoning. Investigation of patients with suspicious clinical features eg, neuropathy, encephalopathy, renal failure, Fanconi syndrome.


Elevated results indicate exposure.

Normal results exclude recent, clinically significant exposure to those metals analysed.

See also Arsenic - urineLead - urineCopper - urine and Mercury - urine.


Baselt RC and Cravey RH. Disposition of Toxic Drugs and Chemicals in Man. 3rd ed. Year Book Medical Publishers 1989.

Hu H. Prim Care 2000; 27(4): 983-996.