Arsenic is a heavy metal that is a natural component of the earth’s crust. It exists in compounds that may be organic or inorganic. It is highly toxic in its inorganic form. Poisoning can occur by ingestion, inhalation and dermal absorption. Toxicity is due to arsenic’s effect on many cell enzymes, which affect metabolism and DNA repair. Arsenic is excreted in urine but can also accumulate in many body tissues.
There are tests available to measure arsenic in your blood, urine, hair, and fingernails. The urine test is the most reliable test for arsenic exposure within the last few days. Tests on hair and fingernails can measure exposure to high levels of arsenic over the past 6-12 months.
Measurement of urine arsenic is the preferred method of screening for arsenic exposure. Blood is not a good specimen to screen for arsenic.
This test is not useful for the evaluation of chronic arsenic exposure.
High concentrations of gadolinium and iodine are known to interfere with most metals tests. If either gadolinium- or iodine-containing contrast media has been administered, a specimen must not be collected for 96 hours.
Normal range- 0-12 ng/mL
Abnormal blood arsenic concentrations (>12 ng/mL) indicate significant exposure.
Absorbed arsenic is rapidly distributed into tissue storage sites with a blood half-life of <6 hours. Unless a blood specimen is drawn within 2 days of exposure, arsenic is not likely to be detected in a blood specimen.