Toxicity from heavy metals disrupts and alters important activity at the cellular level by interfering with membrane integrity, enzyme function, impaired DNA repair mechanisms, messaging and hormone function; this in-turn can translate to a myriad of conditions like elevated blood pressure, fatigue, impaired cognition, developmental delays and latter life chronic illness.
Off course there are many potentially toxic substances we can be exposed to. And we test for many of them in our Soil and Water Tests. However, heavy metals are becoming more pervasive in our environments and they can persist.
Examples: Lead is prevalent in higher than background levels in the soil around many suburban homes in our capital cities due to legacy leaded petrol and paint; Around 2/3 of the Mercury in our oceans comes from burning coal in last few hundred years (coal smoke contains Mercury, Uranium and many other toxic substances) ; Arsenic and Antimony residual contamination is often associated with legacy Gold Mining areas in Australia.
And the World Health Organisation (WHO) list Arsenic, Lead, Cadmium and Mercury in the top ten of the most important substances of concern to human health and the environment.
Evidence indicates that hair analysis is well suited to identify even low dose exposure to metals, heavy metals and minerals.
Any toxic metal may be called a heavy metal, irrespective of its' atomic mass or density, although generally, heavy metals have densities above 5g/cm3 and as part of Earth's Elements, they cannot be degraded or destroyed.
Fifty three of the ninety naturally occurring Earth's Elements are heavy metals and those of highest concern to human, animal and environmental health include arsenic, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, copper, mercury, manganese, nickel, lead, tin, and thallium.
Metal "heaviness" and toxicity are often inter-related with heavy metals & metalloids like arsenic, mercury, cadmium, and lead able to induce toxicity even at low levels of exposure, accentuated by the fact that heavy metals persist in all parts of the environment - Water, Soil and indeed, Human Bone.
Antimony (Sb), Silver (Ag), Arsenic (As), Lead (Pb), Cadmium (Cd), Chromium (Cr), Copper (Cu), Manganese (Mn), Nickel (Ni), Selenium (Se), Zinc (Zn), Mercury (Hg), Iron (Fe), Aluminium (Al), Lithium (Li), Beryllium (Be), Boron (B), Vanadium (V), Cobalt (Co), Strontium (Sr), Molybdenum (Mo), Barium (Ba), Thallium (TL), Bismuth (Bi), Thorium (Th), Uranium (U), Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg), Potassium (K), Sodium (Na), Sulphur (S), Phosphorus (P)
All sample collection details, payment, Laboratory address and phone numbers are on the order form that can be downloaded here. You need to send in the form with your sample hair.
Additional elements can also be ordered on the form if needed. These include the Rare Earth Elements and others: Caesium (Cs), Cerium (Ce), Dysprosium (Dy), Erbium (Er), Europium (Eu), Gadolinium (Gd), Germanium (Ge), Gold (Au), Holmium (Ho), Lanthanum (La), Lutetium (Lu), Neodymium (Nd), Palladium (Pd), Platinum (Pt), Praseodymium (Pr), Rubidium (Rb), Samarium (Sm), Scandium (Sc), Tantalum (Ta), Terbium (Tb), Thulium (Tm), Tin (Sn), Titanium (Ti), Tungsten (W), Ytterbium (Yb), Yttrium (Y), Zirconium (Zr).
We are calling for Global Transparency, Collaboration, Standardisation of Procedures, Increasing detection Sensitivity of some particularly toxic elements, Prioritising children, expectant and breast feeding mothers, Data Sharing to enhance research with a view to establish more accurate population reference ranges and averages and Constant iteration of how results are presented to clients with a view to maximise action and optimise health
What Toxtest and EAL are already doing is...
First, results are easy to understand and immediately actionable.
Second, many people now know that heavy metals like Lead and Cadmium are toxic, bad for health, particularly children. They are to be avoided. However, unknown yet increasing amounts and variation of these metals are making their way into our work, homes, water, food, soil and children play areas. How much then, are we exposed. The key word is exposure. Hair testing is designed to reveal exposure, even low-dose long-term exposure to heavy metals and minerals. People see results that helps them identify exposures which then allows them to make appropriate changes.
Third, we don’t get into all the other nonsense that has indeed given hair testing a bad reputation. We are not flogging supplements. We are not purporting to make a full health assessment or even a nutritional workup, purely from a hair test. Hair testing is designed to complement medical practices like urine and blood tests, not replace them. Hair testing for heavy metals is all about exposure. Whether indeed you experience symptoms or disease from this exposure will be determined be many other factors at work in your individual life (nutrition for example), your genetics, your ability and determination to make lifestyle changes and your cognitive reserve.
Fourth, we are transparent, evidence based, health focused and open to sharing de-identified data and collaboration so as to progress the science of heavy metal hair testing.
Fifth, results can change people’s lives for the better. We constantly confirm this in peoples results and subsequently investigated exposure sources. We provide details of many possible exposures to all the metals tested. These details are regularly updated as work, food, agriculture and industrial practices change. See in-depth examples of client results.
And finally, it’s affordable for individuals and families (AU$98). Hair testing is being used more and more frequently in medicine, sport, criminology and forensic pathology in order to reveal exposure to a growing number of substances we may be exposed to through food, water, drugs, work or the environment.
We only test hair for metals and minerals at this stage. Why? Metals like Lead, Mercury, Arsenic are known to be toxic, metabolically disruptive, neurologically harmful, particularly for children and indeed are carcinogenic. There is no ambiguity there. Even Gadolinium and Titanium are being used more frequently in medicine and dentistry, yet research shows serious side-effects and indeed legal class actions (Gadolinium) have been instigated as a result.
Toxtest and Environmental Analysis Laboratory (EAL), a NATA certified laboratory (Number:14960) and division of Southern Cross University in Lismore, NSW, Australia, collaborate to provide affordable Hair, Water, Soil and Dust testing for the public. Result presentation is visually rich, informative and prioritises human health. The Hair Test analyses 32 heavy metals & minerals. Our sister site, Toxno, provides extensive exposure route and health effects information for all chemicals tested.
EAL Managing Director
Toxtest Owner: Hartmut Michael Günther
Support from OS: (+61) 4 39 54 7788
Support in OZ: 0439 54 7788
Business Name: Toxtest
Australia ABN: 58 845 464 564
Address: Suite 3, 214 Beardy Street,
Armidale, 2350, NSW, Australia
FAX: (61) 2 6526 2123
Hair Test Support Page & FAQs
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Have a Question?
EAL has been servicing the Australian Government, CSIRO, Corporations, Farmers and Businesses in Australian for over two decades. In collaboration with Toxtest, since 2015 and for the first time in Australia, affordable hair, water, soil, compost and dust testing of the highest standards is now available for the public.
SAMPLE SIZE: About 1 gram of hair or a table spoon. Further sampling details in addition to payment and Lab address are on
Downloadable Order Form
If scalp hair not available or known to be contaminated, then beard hair, under-arm or pubic hair is fine.
Fascinating information from the 2019 "Forensic Toxicological Analysis of Hair" article
Hair is amongst other things an excretory organ; meaning that toxic compounds in the body that may be excreted via urine, faeces, sweat and breath, can also be excreted via the hair, albeit over a much longer period of time
The three phases of hair growth are the anagen, catagen, and telogen phases. The anagen phase may last up to 6 years. This is the main growth phase of hair and its approximate lifespan before it falls out. During this phase, the root remains attached to the follicle for continued growth, giving the root bulb a flame-shaped appearance.
The head hairs grow at a rate of 0.6–1.42cm/ month or 0.22–0.52 mm/day. The rate of growth of hair depends on location and type of hair.
Different types of hairs grow at different rates, e.g., pubic hair 0.3 mm/day and axillary hair 0.4 mm/day and beard hair is 0.27mm/day.
The catagen phase may proceed from 2 to 3 weeks. During this phase, hair continues to grow but at a retarded growth rate. In the catagen phase, roots acquire an elongated appearance as the root bulb shrinks and are pushed out of the hair follicle.
...the strength of hair analysis is its ability to reflect even low dose exposure from heavy metals and toxic minerals, within the individual.
This is crucial to know, especially for young children, women of child bearing age and pregnant women because many of these compounds (like Lead, Mercury, Arsenic, Cadmium and Chromium) cause significant physical, neurological and developmental damage to the individual. Importantly, often simple lifestyle, occupational and dietary tweaks will significantly reduce these exposures.
Once the hair growth stops, the telogen phase begins and the root takes on a club-shaped appearance. By the next 2 to 6 months, the hair is pushed out of the follicle, causing the hair to shed off naturally.
The differences in hair growth rate and to some extent that resultant concentration of chemical, lead (Pb), excreted and imbedded in the hair strand, is due to the improved blood supply, telogen-anagen ratio, difference in growth rate, and different numbers of exocrine gland. Exocrine glands are glands that secrete substances onto an epithelial surface by way of a duct. Examples of exocrine glands include sweat, salivary, mammary, lacrimal, sebaceous, and mucous. Exocrine glands are one of two types of glands in the human body, the other being endocrine glands, which secrete their products directly into the bloodstream. REF: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exocrine_gland
The growth of hair does not remain continuous throughout the course. It is a cyclic process in which hair growth phase alternates with dormant or no growth phase.
Hair is mainly composed of protein, which may range from 65 to 95% (keratin), lipids 1–9%, 15–35% water, and less than 1% minerals. Its texture, colour, and composition vary from person to person. Different types of minerals accumulated in the hair may range from 0.25 to 0.95%. About 5 million hair follicles are present in an adult. Out of these 5 million hair follicles, approximately 1 million are found in the head. Hair follicles are rooted 3–4-mm deep in the skin, in the epidermis of epithelium.
The total hair length covers its bulb rooted in the follicle through the shaft and ends at its tip. The shaft is comprised of three layers, i.e., cuticle, cortex, and medulla.
Cuticle has some ability to maintain its structural features for a longer period of time and also have some resistance to chemical decomposition.
Cortex is the second layer lying under the protective covering of cuticle.
Medulla is a collection of cells that looks like a central canal running through the hair. In many animals, this canal is a predominant feature, occupying more than half of the hair diameter. The presence and appearance of medulla vary from individual to individual and even among the hairs of the same individual.
Obviously, some of these hair growth characteristics, will make exact comparisons between individuals challenging. That’s why hair testing at this point is not a diagnostic tool. However, the strength of hair analysis is its ability to reflect even low dose exposure from heavy metals and toxic minerals, within the individual.
This is crucial to know, especially for young children, women of child bearing age and pregnant women because many of these compounds (like Lead, Arsenic, Cadmium, Chromium and Cobalt) cause significant physical, neurological and developmental damage to the individual. Importantly, often simple lifestyle, occupational and dietary tweaks will significantly reduce these exposures.
From: Forensic toxicological analysis of hair: a review, Usman et al. Egyptian Journal of Forensic Sciences (2019) 9:17 https://doi.org/10.1186/s41935-019-0119-5
A 73 yr Male with extremely very high Lead (Pb) levels indicating much higher than average exposure. Arsenic also elevated.
This man had been using a form of male hair dye that contains Lead Acetate for many years
A 51 yr Female with extremely high Cobalt (Co) levels. In addition, Barium, Cadmium, Copper, Nickel and Zinc also elevated. These metals, including cobalt, have all been identified in nicotine-based E-cigarettes.
In this case there is evidence that the source of cobalt exposure may be in part attributed to e-cigarettes and vaping, use of which has been ongoing for more that a year.
A 46 yr Male with extremely high Antimony (Sb). Also high in other heavy metals like Lead (Pb), Cadmium (Cd) and Manganese (Mn).
Has been working in the Oil and Gas industry in Australia handling materials and substances known to contain heavy metals for many years. Has been randomly experiencing tremors (rapid hand shanking as in Parkinson's Disease) for some time. Occupational urine testing (for toxic metals) has never been done for this man or his co-workers
A series of recent results (2019-2020) of young children living near Cockburn Cement Limited (CCL), an old coal burning cement factory located in Russell Road, Munster (near Perth CBD) and is now one of the largest quicklime producers in the world (1 million tonnes each year).
During 2017/8 local residents had dust samples from their backyards tested at the National Measurement Institute (NMI) in Sydney. A set of tests results by NMI in April 2018 established that “dusts” from the factory contain several or all of the following: aluminium, antimony, arsenic, barium, beryllium, cadmium, cesium, chromium, cobalt, copper, lead, manganese, mercury, nickel, sulphur, titanium and uranium.
Astonishingly, this plant, very close to Perth, Australia and only 1 km from a built-up residential area, has clouds of very fine Portland cement frequently blown into the air and fall on residences up to at least 4 kilometres away.
All the children tested are part of a community group (Cockburn Pollution Stoppers ), currently lobbing to have the plant use natural gas instead of coal.
Nearly all the children's hair test results, revealed significant exposure to Cadmium (Cd) amongst other metals. Several results are shown here
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by Hartmut Günther, founder at
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Human & Environmental Chemical Testing for the Public. Innovative Result Visualisation with emphasis on Human Health