Laboratory Test Information Guide

Details for Lead,Tissue

Test Name: Lead,Tissue
Alternate Name(s):  
Laboratory: Trace Elements
Specimen Type: Fresh or frozen tissue is acceptable

Minimum of 0.3 mg of fresh or frozen tissue.

Be careful not to contaminate the sample.

Needle biopsies are also acceptable in formalin.

*If fixed in formalin, please send an extra tube of formalin.
Test Schedule: Batched analysis
Turnaround time from when specimen
is received in testing laboratory:
10 days
Reference Range:  
Effective Date: 2010-01-11
Revised Date: 2013-06-03
Critical Value:  
Interpretive Comments: Non occupational exposure

In children less than 10 years old a whole blood lead > 1.45 µmol/l is a notifiable disease to the Medical Officer of Health. In adults a whole blood lead > 2.9 µmol/l is notifiable.

- It is desirable for all children less than 10 years of age to have a whole blood lead of less than 0.5 umol/L.
- Results between 0.5 and 1.0 µmol/L are abnormal; they are indicative of increased lead absorption and should initiate environmental measures to minimize the level of exposure.
- Between 1.0 and 1.9 µmol/L some children will require chelation therapy and a paediatric consultation is recommended.
- Above 1.9 µmol/L most children will require chelation and referral to a paediatrician is highly desirable.
- Levels above 3.0 µmol/L generally require URGENT medical treatment to reduce the risk of lead encephalopathy.

Occupational exposure

It is desirable for all lead workers to minimize their exposure to lead and maintain a whole blood lead level less than 1.5 µmol/L. It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure regular monitoring of blood lead levels and to report all blood lead levels above 2.6 µmol/L to the Occupational Safety And Health (OSH) Service of the Department of Labour. At this 'action' level the work environment and work practices should be investigated. After a single blood lead result of 3.2 µmol/L or greater ('suspension' level) or three consecutive blood lead levels above 2.6 µmol/L the worker should be removed from further exposure.

Biological Monitoring of Lead Workers
The aim of blood lead monitoring of workers exposed to lead is to maintain a blood lead level below 1.5 µmol/L of whole blood. A pre employment screen is recommended to exclude sources of lead other than occupational exposure; these may include home renovations, small bore rifle shooting, casting lead sinkers, home mechanics etc.

Female workers
It is considered unwise for females who could become pregnant to work with lead due to the harmful effects of lead on a foetus. However, if a female works in a job where excessive exposure is possible, a whole blood lead less than 1.5 µmol/L should be maintained. A lead level equal to or less than 0.5 µmol/L of whole blood is considered 'safe' for a developing foetus.

Find Interpretive Comment and Clinical Information here:
Special Processing:  
Comments: Reference Ranges are based on Non-Occupationally exposed population.
Method of Analysis: High Resolution Sector Field Inductively Coupled Mass Spectrometry
Critical Information Required:  
Storage & Shipment:  
System Codes: 
Referred To:  

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