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Test ID ASHA Arsenic, Hair

Reporting Name

Arsenic, Hair

Useful For

Detection of nonacute arsenic exposure in hair specimens

Specimen Type

Hair


Specimen Required


Supplies: Hair and Nails Collection Kit (T565)

Specimen Volume: 0.2 g

Collection Instructions: Prepare and transport specimen per the instructions in the kit or see Collecting Hair and Nails for Metals Testing in Special Instructions.

Additional Information: If known, indicate source of hair (axillary, head, or pubic).


Specimen Minimum Volume

0.05 g

Specimen Stability Information

Specimen Type Temperature Time Special Container
Hair Ambient (preferred)
  Frozen 
  Refrigerated 

Reference Values

0-15 years: not established

≥16 years: <1.0 mcg/g of hair

Day(s) and Time(s) Performed

Tuesday; 3 p.m.

Test Classification

This test was developed and its performance characteristics determined by Mayo Clinic in a manner consistent with CLIA requirements. This test has not been cleared or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

CPT Code Information

82175

LOINC Code Information

Test ID Test Order Name Order LOINC Value
ASHA Arsenic, Hair 5584-8

 

Result ID Test Result Name Result LOINC Value
31896 Arsenic, Hair 5584-8
ASHSC Specimen Source 31208-2

Clinical Information

Arsenic circulating in the blood will bind to protein by formation of a covalent complex with sulfhydryl groups of the amino acid cysteine. Keratin, the major structural protein in hair and nails, contains many cysteine residues and, therefore, is one of the major sites for accumulation of arsenic. Since arsenic has a high affinity for keratin, the concentration of arsenic in hair is higher than in other tissues.

 

Arsenic binds to keratin at the time of exposure, "trapping" the arsenic in hair. Therefore, hair analysis for arsenic is not only used to document that an exposure occurred, but when it occurred. Hair collected from the nape of the neck can be used to document recent exposure. Axillary or pubic hair is used to document long-term (6 months-1 year) exposure.

Interpretation

Hair grows at a rate of approximately 0.5 inch/month. Hair keratin synthesized today will protrude through the skin in approximately 1 week. Thus, a hair specimen collected at the skin level represents exposure of 1 week ago, 1 inch distally from the skin represents exposure 2 months ago, etc.

 

Hair arsenic levels above 1.00 mcg/g dry weight may indicates excessive exposure. It is normal for some arsenic to be present in hair, as everybody is exposed to trace amounts of arsenic from the normal diet.

 

The highest hair arsenic observed at Mayo Clinic was 210 mcg/g dry weight in a case of chronic exposure that was the cause of death.

Clinical Reference

1. Sthiannopkao S, Kim K-W, Cho KH, et al: Arsenic levels in human hair, Kandal Province, Cambodia: The influences of groundwater arsenic, consumption period, age and gender. Applied Geochemistry 2010;25:81-90

2. Pearse DC, Dowling K, Gerson AR, et al: Arsenic microdistribution and speciation in toenail clippings of children living in a historic gold mining area. Sci Total Environ 2010;408:2590-2599

Analytic Time

2 days

Method Name

Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS)