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Find the Best Heavy Metal Testing Kit

Let our experts tell you everything you need to know about testing for heavy metals at home.

Medically reviewed by: Dr. Poonam Merai, MD
Last Updated: Sep 4, 2020

heavy metals

Heavy metals exist naturally in our environment, and it’s common to consume low amounts through one’s diet. Small quantities of some metals, such as copper, selenium, and zinc are actually necessary for our health, whereas other chemicals, such as mercury, lead, and cadmium, aren’t nutritionally beneficial and can be toxic in sufficient quantities. Heavy metals are used in various industries, so they are common pollutants found in water, food, air and soil. They can damage organs and lead to diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, muscular dystrophy, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.

People who fear they or their family have been exposed to environmental pollutants or toxic metals can benefit from heavy metal testing, because it can help determine whether the levels of these chemicals in their bodies are within a safe range. Self-testing is increasingly common among new or expecting parents – particularly those at high risk of exposure – as an extra precautionary measure to avoid the risk of exposing small, vulnerable children.

Luckily, testing members of your family for heavy metals toxicity has never been easier. Whether you want to take a test in the comfort of your own home or in a convenient local lab, you have many solid choices. Out of all the tests currently on the market, our three favorites are myLAB Box’s Heavy Metals Home Screening Test, Everlywell’s Heavy Metals Test, and HealthLabs’ Comprehensive Heavy Metals Profile.

If you are in a hurry and just want to know which of these three we would recommend, here is our top choice:

Our Top Choice
myLAB Box: Heavy Metals Screening Test

myLAB Box: Heavy Metals Screening Test

This heavy metals test offers the best trade-off between comprehensiveness and value, testing for lead, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium.

myLAB Box is one of the largest and most respected at-home health and wellness testing companies. The company receives high ratings in terms of Value, Accuracy, Privacy, and Customer Support.

Current Deals: Save 20% with coupon code: INNERBODY

Why you should trust us

A conceptual depiction of three generations of a family

Innerbody.com recently celebrated its 20-year anniversary online. Over the past two decades, we have helped tens of millions of readers make informed decisions involving staying healthy and living healthier lifestyles. Our testing team has purchased and compared over 500 health-related tests to date, and we are constantly updating our guides based on the latest test advances.

The primary author of this guide is an experienced life sciences writer who earned her PhD in Biochemistry and BS degree in Cell Biology. Like all medical-related content on this website, this guide was thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for medical accuracy.

What are the symptoms of too much heavy metal in the body?

Symptoms of heavy metal poisoning may differ according to the metal. Many early symptoms are easy to mistake for other ailments or illnesses, which makes them more dangerous; people often assume their symptoms are related to something entirely different.

Long-term effects of poisoning vary as well. For example, too much exposure to arsenic can lead to an increased risk of various types of cancers and decreased nerve function. Exposure to cadmium for a long period of time can cause lung, bone and kidney disease. While selenium and iodine (a nonmetal) are needed to help the body function normally, increased levels of iodine can lead to thyroid dysfunction. Too much selenium over time can cause hair loss, bad breath and nerve damage.

Symptoms of heavy metal poisoning:

  • Disturbances in sleep
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Skin issues
  • Migraines or headaches
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramps or pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Hair loss
  • Lack of coordination
  • Weight loss

Below are common symptoms of poisoning specific to the four heavy metals that pose the greatest risk to most of us.

Mercury poisoning

Though it affects numerous systems and organs in your body, the most noticeable symptoms of mercury poisoning relate to its neurological effects:

  • Body weakness and poor balance/coordination
  • Trouble forming words
  • Vision problems
  • Numbness and tingling in your hands, or inability to use your hands well

Arsenic poisoning

The symptoms of arsenic toxicity include:

  • Heart arrhythmia
  • New skin conditions like swelling, strange lesions and redness
  • Cramping muscles
  • Digestive issues like diarrhea and upset stomach

Lead poisoning

Common symptoms vary widely and include:

  • Headaches
  • Sleep issues, including feeling very tired
  • Behavioral changes like mood swings and irritability
  • Cognitive issues like brain fog and memory problems
  • Poor appetite
  • Abdominal pain and/or constipation
  • Nerve sensations in your legs and arms (tingling, numbness or discomfort)
  • Hypertension

Cadmium poisoning

Common symptoms of cadmium toxicity partly depend on how you were exposed, but often include:

  • Digestive issues like diarrhea, nausea and abdominal cramping
  • Symptoms common in respiratory viruses – chills, breathing problems and weakness

Which is the best heavy metals test?

There are a number of options for at-home testing solutions. The three best ones on the market in our opinion are myLAB Box’s Heavy Metals Home Screening Test, Everlywell’s Heavy Metals Test, and HealthLabs’ Comprehensive Heavy Metals Profile.

Not all kits measure the same metals, so it’s very important to review which metals are included in the test. It makes sense that the prices of each test depend on how many metals are included in the test. Below is a handy chart detailing our top testing choices.

  myLAB Box Everlywell HealthLabs HealthLabs
Price $89 $199 $289 $549
Blood or urine? Blood Urine Blood Urine
Test location At home At home In lab In lab
Arsenic
Mercury
Lead
 
Cadmium
 
Creatinine (control)  
 
Selenium  
   
Bromine  
   
Iodine  
   
Thallium      
Cobalt      

At-home testing

The tests from myLAB Box and Everlywell can be completed entirely from your own home. with your results sent to you within a few days. The test from HealthLabs can be ordered online, but you need to visit one of their certified labs to have your sample taken. The test samples from all tests mentioned in this guide, whether taken at home or at a lab, are processed in certified laboratories.

Best Heavy Metals Test
myLAB Box: Heavy Metals Screening Test

myLAB Box: Heavy Metals Screening Test

This heavy metals test offers the best trade-off between comprehensiveness and value, testing for lead, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium.

myLAB Box is one of the largest and most respected at-home health and wellness testing companies. The company receives high ratings in terms of Value, Accuracy, Privacy, and Customer Support.

Current Deals: Save 20% with coupon code: INNERBODY

All the tests recommended in this guide are excellent, but our top recommendation is myLAB Box’s Heavy Metals Screening Test.

myLAB Box heavy metals test
  • It tests for the four most common heavy metal toxins – lead, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium
  • myLAB Box makes this test available for a very reasonable price [$89], providing quality testing access to a larger number of people. Partly this is because myLAB Box does not test for creatinine within this test. This means, if your test reveals a high level of cadmium, for instance, you should follow up with an additional test of both cadmium and creatinine, in order to explore the possibility of kidney damage or to confirm or dismiss the initial results (more on creatinine below). Our readers also receive 20% off each test (use discount code: INNERBODY) which makes this particular test the best deal by far.

For most people, this is probably the best test to buy.

NOTE: myLAB Box’s test is a finger-prick test for a blood sample. Our testers found it to be painless and not a bother – even the couple testers who have problems with needles and blood.

Also Great
Everlywell: Heavy Metals Test

Everlywell: Heavy Metals Test

The test offers the best trade-off between comprehensiveness and value, testing for mercury, arsenic, cadmium, bromine, iodine, and more.

Everlywell is one of the largest and most respected at-home health and wellness test companies. The company receives high ratings in terms of Value, Accuracy, Privacy, and Customer Support.

Current Deals: Save 20% with coupon code: REFER20

Our next recommended test would be the Heavy Metal Test from Everlywell. This test screens for three of the same four toxins as the myLAB Box test (mercury, cadmium and arsenic), in addition to three less common but equally toxic substances – bromine, selenium, and iodine.

Of the three, selenium is the only heavy metal and – like copper, zinc or iron – is a vital nutrient in healthy amounts (often you’ll see it as a nutrient in multivitamins). Too much or too little of a good thing is problematic though.

Bromine and iodine are not heavy metals – in fact, they’re not metals at all – but may be of interest. (Interesting sidenote: bromine is the only non-metal element that is liquid at room temperature.)

  • Bromine can enter our bodies through environmental contamination, most commonly from pesticides.
  • Iodine (another substance that our bodies need in proper amounts) can cause or indicate health problems if a test indicates abnormal levels of it.

If you have reason to believe that you were exposed to bromine, selenium, or iodine – or believe you may have iodine or selenium insufficiency – then this is probably the best test for you. Everlywell is also known for creating comprehensive, yet easy-to-understand, result reports.

The primary reason that this test is not our top choice is cost: the Everlywell test is more than twice as expensive [$199] as myLAB Box’s test. As a result, you would have to pay 2x the cost for adding three less common toxins, while excluding lead.

Everlywell does give our readers 20% off all tests when they use discount code INNERBODY20.

Everlywell heavy metals test kit

A quick note about creatinine

You may have noticed that Everlywell’s test includes creatinine, while the myLAB Box test does not. Including creatinine in a heavy metals test is useful for control purposes… it only rarely will be elevated or lower than normal, so if the creatinine value is off, it could signal that there is a kidney filtration issue that could be providing misleading results about the presence of heavy metals too. It’s also useful in a urine test because creatinine and cadmium levels in urine are usually proportional, so if cadmium levels grow larger than proportionality would cause us to expect, it could indicate kidney damage.

Ordering from home and testing in a lab

Among in-lab test experiences, HealthLabs is our top pick – if you want the convenience of ordering your lab from home (and also ultimately reviewing results there) but also the comfort of having your test administered by the professionals in a lab, then HealthLabs should be your top choice. But the service does come with additional cost: the most affordable HealthLabs test is still over three times more expensive than myLAB Box’s test.

The HealthLabs Comprehensive Heavy Metals Profile is a very good test for those who want to measure additional heavy metals in addition to the big four, leaving no stone unturned and sparing no expense. Along with lead, cadmium, mercury and arsenic, this test package includes thallium and cobalt.

  • Thallium is so toxic that murderers have used it in the past as an effective and inconspicuous poison (it has no flavor or smell). Though thallium is present naturally, human activity and industry pollute our environment with it. In particular, smelters and the burning of coal release thallium into the surrounding areas, where it can be inhaled or ingested through food or water. People who work in coal-burning plants, cement factories and smelters are at risk of inhaling large amounts of thallium. So, too, are cigarette-smokers.
  • Though naturally present in small amounts, cobalt can accumulate in and around industrial sites; in dirt near highways and high-traffic areas; and in other areas with high pollution. Exposure commonly occurs occupationally and through dirt, food, and water. Cobalt has had many industrial applications – often used as a colorant, in alloying, in electroplating, in the manufacturing of cutting tools, in batteries, and in prosthetics. Workers in a number of industries could be exposed to harmful amounts, including in the aerospace, petroleum and mining industries.

If testing children, we recommend the Standard Heavy Metals Profile – a blood test – because blood will be the best way to measure lead poisoning in children. (But note: this test does not include cadmium).

We tested other companies as well, most notably Personalabs – another high-quality company that partners only with trustworthy labs. But if your goal is to order diagnostic tests online and have them administered in a controlled lab setting, then your better choice is HealthLabs. HealthLabs gives you the same convenient service and the same dedication to top quality, but actually has 4,500 lab locations nationwide – almost double Personalabs’ 2,300 locations. So when it comes to getting the testing done, HealthLabs wins.

Plus, the pricing of HealthLabs also tends to be more reasonable than Personalabs. Case in point: the comparable, comprehensive urine heavy metals test from HealthLabs is almost $200 less expensive than Personalabs’ comprehensive urine test.

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What causes heavy metal poisoning?

“Heavy metals” is a term applied to a large group of dense metals, but among this large group, there are four heavy metals of greatest concern when it comes to human exposure and toxicity:

  • Arsenic
  • Lead
  • Cadmium
  • Mercury

These are the most common heavy metals to poison people. They are found naturally on our planet – occasionally at levels that can lead to overexposure. Most often, though, toxicity is a result of human activities, because we have used these substances in farming, healthcare products and both industrial and domestic settings.

Cadmium

Cadmium toxicity over time can damage vital bones, blood and vital organs like the kidneys and liver.

Cadmium enters agricultural soils as a contaminant in phosphate fertilizers and also due to pollution in our atmosphere. For most people, exposure to cadmium will come through the foods and water that we consume. However, cadmium exposure can occur industrially in the workplace; cadmium is a common byproduct in the refining of zinc and lead. It’s also a common protective coating in the aerospace industry as well as in maritime contexts. It’s used in the manufacturing of electronics and certain plastics. You can even find cadmium in some detergents.

Cadmium is one of many good reasons to quit smoking; cigarette smoke is a primary way in which people accumulate toxic levels of cadmium.

Arsenic

Inorganic arsenic exposure causes several cancers, skin lesions, infant mortality and other health conditions. It is very toxic. Exposure to arsenic is a serious problem worldwide and domestically in the United States.

Found naturally in our environment typically in small amounts, arsenic is an environmental pollutant in many parts of the world – including the United States – due to human activity and industry. People use arsenic in numerous industries (textiles, paper, ammunition, tanning and many others) and it is also often present in pesticides and herbicides. Arsenic accumulates and contaminates the topsoils where produce is grown. Working in or living near such industries can spell higher exposure.

Food and water are the most common ways in which the average person is exposed to arsenic. Inorganic arsenic appears as a pollutant in groundwater. In fact the World Health Organization considers arsenic “the most significant” chemical contaminant of drinking water in the world.

Cigarette smoking exposes smokers – and those nearby – to arsenic in the smoke. A smoker inhales as much as 2.4 micrograms of arsenic per pack of cigarettes, absorbing about 40% of it into the respiratory tract.

Lead

Lead poisoning can be fatal in high amounts, but in low amounts over time it will bioaccumulate – meaning that it does not leave your body. Low amounts can be very damaging to your health or the health of children, who are particularly at risk of physical and cognitive developmental problems.

Many of us are familiar with the tragedies of places like Flint, Michigan with its infamous exposure to lead through the drinking water supply. What many don’t realize is how common this may be throughout the United States, due to corroding household pipes as well as the public pipes that supply water to a community.

In addition to drinking water, lead exposure occurs from:

  • Old paint and dust in older buildings
  • Air pollution
  • Spending significant time in firing ranges
  • Working in smelters or construction settings
  • Repairing cars and working a lot with car batteries

Mercury

The World Health Organization lists mercury as a top 10 chemical of public health concern. Only very small amounts can threaten our health by damaging our nervous system, digestive system and immune system as well as our lungs, skin and eyes.

There are two types of mercury that account for most exposure:

  • Methylmercury (organic mercury) through our diet
  • Elemental mercury exposure in industrial workplaces

(Ethylmercury is also commonly used in vaccines, though health experts conclude it is not a health risk.)

Found naturally in the world, volcanic activity can release mercury into the environment, but most of our mercury exposure occurs due to pollution from human activity – primarily:

  • Burning coal for power, heat and cooking
  • Mining and refining ores like gold, silver and mercury
  • Manufacturing a number of products, from light bulbs to mirrors

These activities cause mercury to be released in higher amounts into the environment, where bacterial processes turn it into methylmercury. This form of mercury bioaccumulates in seafood that we eat. It then bioaccumulates in us, just as it did in the marine animals. Unlike some other pollutants, the cooking process won’t get rid of the mercury.

Meanwhile, those working in industrial settings and workplaces such as those listed above are likelier to inhale quantities of mercury as vapor, either in low amounts over a long period of time or in high amounts during industrial accidents.

Are heavy metal tests accurate?

Testing for heavy metals via blood or urine is highly accurate. By contrast, heavy metal tests that use hair or fingernail are much less accurate. All of our recommended test kits in this guide use either blood or urine for heavy metal testing.

When testing children, blood testing for lead is considered more accurate than urine testing.

Meanwhile, blood testing for arsenic is very accurate in detecting ongoing exposure and current concern, because inorganic arsenic remains in your blood for days and in your body for months. However, exposure that occurred longer ago may be easier to detect via urine. Arsenic does not bioaccumulate like lead.

These are both reasons why we recommend the myLAB Box blood test for most people. Most of us taking the test are concerned about current exposure, and lead poisoning is of greatest concern among our children.

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How do heavy metal tests work?

There are several ways of testing for heavy metals, some of which are more reliable than others. Tests exist that use blood, urine or even hair/nail samples. Blood and urine are the most reliable, so naturally our recommendations are all blood or urine tests.

Our test recommendations allow you either to test yourself at home (myLAB Box is our top choice for this) or to order a test at home but have the test administered in a lab setting (in which case we recommend HealthLabs). Your choice between these two testing methods is a matter of convenience, comfort and personal preference. Both testing methods are highly accurate and easy for us to recommend.

What we do not recommend is not getting tested, if you have any of the symptoms of heavy metal poisoning and/or you are worried that your lifestyle, living environment or workplace may have exposed you to unhealthy levels of arsenic, cadmium, lead or mercury. Testing can save you from severe health problems later.

How can I test myself for heavy metals?

Testing yourself for heavy metals is thankfully very easy. Here are the steps:

  1. Order an at-home heavy metals test kit. We recommend myLAB Box’s kit, though Everlywell has a fine at-home kit also. myLAB Box tests using a simple finger-prick for a blood sample to test for all four primary heavy metal concerns, while Everlywell uses a urine sample and tests for three of the four (while testing for additional substances of interest).

    Everlywell’s kit cannot be shipped to New York, New Jersey or Rhode Island at this time.

  2. After you order your kit, it will arrive at your home. Packaging for both companies is very discreet. Your package will arrive within 3 days via myLAB Box, or within 5 days via Everlywell.

  3. Follow the basic instructions to collect your test specimen. For myLAB Box, it will be a small finger-prick blood sample, while Everlywell’s uses a urine sample.

  4. Enclose your test sample in the packaging and mail it back to the lab. Shipping is free and fast.

  5. View your results. You can see your test results securely online and save them to share with your doctor. myLAB Box will have your results within 2-8 days from the time you put the package in the mail. Everlywell will give you results within 3-5 days from your shipping day.

What should I do if test results come back positive?

Your results will either show normal or high/elevated levels of the toxic heavy metals. (Everlywell’s results for iodine and selenium will also indicate if those levels are “low”, meaning you aren’t getting enough in your diet.) If your levels are not normal, then the next important step will be to share these results with your doctor. Our recommended testing companies make it very easy to download and share your test results, and they also provide some helpful information about potential causes and next steps. But it’s always smart to share these results with your doctor. From there, you will determine the best approach to reducing your exposure and solving the problem.

If your results do show high levels of toxic heavy metals, the good news is that now you know about the problem. Rather than letting it continue at great risk to your health, you can now act on this knowledge in order to recover and prevent poisoning in the future.

How do we choose our recommendations?

We customize our evaluation criteria depending on the type and nature of the test. For most health-related tests, we have five areas that we use for our evaluations, including:

Accuracy: Do the testing companies use the latest and most accurate testing technologies available? How accurate are the tests compared to alternatives?

Value: Are you getting your money’s worth? Are there any hidden costs or charges? Does the test provider offer discounts to our readers?

Customer Support: How well does the testing company help you choose the best test? How clearly are the results presented? How well does the testing company help you understand results and get treatment if necessary?

Privacy: Are all test kits sent in discreet packaging? Will your data be stored securely? Could your data ever be shared without your permission?

Test Results Speed: How fast will you receive your test results from the moment you click “buy?” Are the waiting times stated by the testing companies accurate and consistent?

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