Although it is rare, heavy metal toxicity is considered a clinically significant medical condition that, when improperly diagnosed or left untreated, may contribute to increased morbidity and mortality rates. Heavy metals that are usually associated with this kind of toxicity include aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, iron, lead, and mercury. They reach the internal parts of the body through ingestion, inhalation, and absorption. Contaminated food, water, and air can easily make their way through the body of those who work in the agricultural fields, as well as in industries including manufacturing, pharmaceutical and industrial settings.
With their sensitive body chemistry, children may easily acquire toxic amounts of heavy metals from their typical hand-to-mouth activities, especially when they play with contaminated soil or they accidentally eat small particles like dirt or paint chips. In other cases, medical procedures involving radiologic technology, incorrect doses of intravenous nutrition, contamination from broken thermometers, or suicidal or homicide attempts of certain individuals may lead to heavy metal toxicity.
While seeking professional assistance is recommended, heavy metal testing with home test kits can also provide reliable results to determine the amount of heavy metals present in the body. These home test kits offer a convenient way to detect contamination from different heavy metals by using a colour chart as a reference. Generally, the heavy metal home test kit uses specific chemical reagents. These reagents react with the free metal ions of the heavy metals, which allow them to change in colour to indicate the presence of heavy metals. This usually happens when these toxic substances accumulate in the body, particularly in the soft tissues.
Clear samples of breast milk, saliva, tap water, and urine can be used in heavy metal testing. For a more accurate interpretation of results, it is important to strain the sample to give out a distinct colour change. Sometimes, solid foods like raw fish and supplements can also be used to measure the amount of toxic metals. But, the solids should be soaked first in distilled water for 24 hours. When extracting fluid from raw fish samples, it is important to subject them to heat using a microwave oven for about 20 seconds. The pH should also be adjusted to about 5.0 to get accurate results.
Although home test kits are easy to use, it is good to note that interpreting the results need careful analysis. There are instances that results showing low levels of a certain heavy metal in the blood do not directly remove the individual from the risks of heavy metal toxicity. The blood does not hold these heavy metals for longer periods; thus, other fluid samples are used. For example, lead can easily travel from the blood into the organs in the body until it reaches the bones. Hence, in this case, it is important to take samples not only from the blood and urine but also from the bones.
Heavy metal testing is a practical diagnostic tool in determining the presence of the amount of heavy metals in the body. This type of test is important to identify the root cause of free radical activities that occur in the body. In this way, individuals can prevent the condition from worsening by taking in immediate treatment upon the early detection of heavy metal toxicity.