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Tested Positive Heavy Metal

Hello Orchidland,

I have had some unusual health problems over the last year that have
had the docs scratching their heads. After much testing (seemed like
I’d run out of blood), it was decided that since I cut lots of rock
and work with metal (silver, copper, brass, a little gold, no casting
or etching), what the heck, I should be tested for heavy metals. As I
am very safety conscious (I’ve paid close attention to the advice on
this forum), I expected nothing of interest to come of it.

I was shocked when the results came back. Off the chart levels of
lead, very high levels of mercury, arsenic and cadmium (even a bit of

We’re now trying to figure how this could have happened - is it
something I did/am doing in the shop or more likely something I got
into somewhere else.

Have any of you tested positive for heavy metals (urine and blood
test, not hair analysis)? If so, did you trace it back to your
jewelry/lapidary work? How were you treated and how did it work out?



Do you eat large quantities of fish? Are you partial particularly to

Even if the waters where fish are caught near your home are
pristine, these days we can’t judge where the fish we eat originated,
because there are so many layers of distribution.

Mark Bingham

Largest and commonest source of lead in the body is from tap water
(lead pipes). Lead and cadmium are also taken in from certain food
sources, especially tomatoes and blackberries so if you grow your own
food it would be worthwhile investigating the soil. There may be old
mining activity where you live that is not apparent now as well.
Mercury comes from fillings, old gilding and batteries, arsenic from
paints, old insecticides and again mining/soil.

Do you drink much milk? High calcium intake stops the absorbtion of
heavy metals but it will take years for your body to rid itself of
these elements.

In short, it is possible that cutting rock without adequate
ventilation is the cause of you ills but I would look around you to
see if there is a latent problem with your environment as well. I
spent years rock cutting and polishing for a living and shooting on
an indoor range and never had problems with heavy metals in the


this sounds very serious! where do you live? have you been in one
place for a while? perhaps there was some heavy manufacturing going
on. what about the people who live with you - prayers are going out
to you


surely you have considered that eating a lot of tuna fish and fresh
fish particularly imported from china have high levels of mercury
and arsenic?

Also the environment…old houses with lead pipes are infamous for
this. A radiologist friend, had his house sanded a few months ago in
New Orleans the dust from the sanding had a very high concentration
of lead.His son had to be hospitalized and his two pets died from
being in the yard with it for three days…so look at environment
too…as I’m sure you have…Also cadmium build up from soldering in a
totally irresponsible way would take years…I’m betting you take
precautions…so I’d look at the school’s studio, groundwater at your
house,the house site and environment as much as lapidary, but a
thorough testing is in order…also it is not uncommon to have some
elevated blood levels of heavy metals if you live in formerly
industrial areas or their dumps.

I had a blood test three months ago thinking that some of my health
issues were from jewelry making and fully expected to find elevated
levels of gold,silver,and cadmium -from years of cadmium filled
solder…it wasn’t there,but i eat far less fish than I did in New

So…supposing you re leaving the lead paint chips alone…and wearing
at least a particle mask for lapidary I’d look at tuna or fish and
their source,and the environment, well ventilated spaces are what
you should find.

American Lab Supply and a number of other hardware,paint and
plumbing suppliers carry a swab that you open,snap the head of the
tube which releases the liquid into the shaft and then to the swab
and rub on a surface,the reagent reacts if x metal is present…It
comes in lead,cobalt,zinc,and a few other varieties.i can send you
the catalog link if interested…

i am curious as you are.plesae post when you know what’s happened…


Most doctors rarely come in contact with people who have been
exposed to lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium and uranium. Are you near
university or teaching hospital? This type of institution may have
better resources. You need to be concerned with the impact these
metals have on your liver immune system ect. Is your studio in your
home? Certainly do take a look at the materials your working with but
as a suggestion have your water tested as well if you’ve not done so
already. Ask a lot of questions of the doctros and take notes in you
need to. E-mail me if you want

Dear Karen,

No matter how you were exposed to these metals, the most important
thing now is to rid your body of them. I suggest that you do a search
on the web for “chelation therapy”. I have read some articles about
it, and had a friend who had good results, but I don’t know the
chemicals at issue in his case.

In any case, I wish you the very best. Please keep us updated.


Also take a look at this sites.

Hi Karen;

In a jewelry shop, there are certainly many opportunities for
exposure to lead, perhaps mercury, but I can’t imagine where you’d be
exposed to uranium. However, if you lived near a coal fired power
plant, expecially if you lived down wind, you could be exposed all of
these things, including the unranium.

David L. Huffman


If your blood tests show high levels of lead, you should already
have been referred and should now be in touch with your local or
state environmental public health professional/sanitarian. The source
could be completely environmental and unrelated to your lapidary
activities. This is not the place for an extensive discussion of
possible exposures, as there are so many avenues and a thorough
evaluation of your surroundings, dietary habits, and activities can
narrow the focus.

I’ve been “on the case” of tracking lead exposures and you do need a
professional. It’s detective work. S/he will have an exhaustive list
of questions and can collect samples accurately or run an XRF on
surfaces around you.

However, should you have questions, I’ll try to help. Contact me off
list. Although I’ve let the certificate lapse, I was a certified
lead inspector for a local health dept.

Judy in Kansas

Dear Karen,

I am having this testing done this fall after my season is over and
I can research the detox facilities. A physician that I spoke with
last year in California warned me that the detox of heavy metals has
to be done under strict supervision because as they move out of the
deeper layers they can go into the brain and cause serious psychotic

I believe that there are probably many of us that have this
poisoning but when I have approached health topics on this forum most
people have vehemently denied that our studios or materials we work
with will make us ill. I personally have had health problems with my
lungs and adult onset asthma as well as extreme birth defects when I
was pregnant all of which we think are environment related. I am
currently setting up a new studio and emphasizing non toxicity and
clean air quality…

I wish you well balanced healing and would love to know any
that you find out about detoxing.

Beth McElhiney
on the sunny, HOT, humid, busy island of Martha’s Vineyard

I was tested for mercury levels back in 1995. My levels at that time
were 15 times the normal amount. I had mercury flowing into my system
every day as I worked in a dental office where you had to squeeze the
mercury out of the amalgam by hand with cheesecloth. Today my system
is still at 10 times the normal levels. I have a detox five times a
year, a chelaton treatment once a year. I have been told that I will
always have a very high level of mercury in my system and to have
that on a medic alert. I have my blood tested twice a year and it has
to go to the states to be analyzed. I do not have any fillings (thank
goodness), but I cannot wear 925 jewellery. Until a friend and I were
fooling around with some solutions and came upon one where we painted
it onto the 925 and even peruvian silver and I was able to wear the
pieces with no reaction. Think we can remember what we put into the
solution??? Nope, so it is back to the drawing board.