Blood lead level analysis is performed to evaluate the body burden of lead. Lead is a cumulative protoplasmic poison that may be ingested, inhaled, or absorbed directly through the skin. Toxic effects are categorized as gastrointestinal, central nervous system, neuromuscular, hematologic, renal, or constitutional. Common symptoms include constipation, anorexia, abdominal pain, weight loss, fatigue, and a characteristic peripheral neuropathy (wrist drop). Severe poisoning may lead to nephropathy, encephalopathy, convulsions, and even death.
Lead poisoning may result from occupational exposure (mining, smelters, sheet metal, battery manufacture, automobile radiator repair, demolition work, alloys, and metal plating). Poisoning may also occur subsequent to exposure to leaded containers, lead clay, glazed pottery, solder, paints, and bullets (wound).
Infants and children aged 9 months to 6 years are particularly susceptible to the effects of lead due to greater gastrointestinal absorption. Lead exposure can lead to irreversible IQ deficits, poor academic achievement, reduced attention span, and hyperactivity.
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- WHAT IT TESTS: Measures lead levels.
- WHY TAKE IT: Screen for exposure to lead.
- REQUIRES FAST? No.