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Tungsten (W), Urine

Tungsten is a natural element found in rocks and minerals in combination with other chemicals, but never as a pure metal. Elemental tungsten is a white to gray metal (depending on purity) that can be used in pure form or mixed with other metals to form alloys. Tungsten alloys are strong and supple, resist wear, and conduct electricity well. Tungsten is used in products such as X-ray tubes, lamps, high-speed tools, welding electrodes, turbine blades, golf clubs, darts, gyroscopes, phonograph needles, and bullets. Tungsten is also used as a catalyst to accelerate chemical reactions. Tungsten chemicals have many applications (grinding and cutting wheels, tools, paints, fire retardants, etc.)

How does Tungsten enter the environment?
  • Tungsten is a naturally occurring element in the environment.
  • Tungsten is an element that cannot be formed or destroyed.
  • Tungsten in water mainly comes from rocks and soils washed away by running water.
  • Tungsten in the air comes from the disintegration of rocks, ore mining, or emissions from the industries that process it.
  • Tungsten particles in the air can settle on soil, water, or plant surfaces or be swept away by rain and snow.
  • Most of the ground Tungsten does not reach groundwater.
How is one exposed to Tungsten?
  • One may be exposed to deficient levels of tungsten by breathing air, eating food, or drinking water containing Tungsten. Air in cities generally contains more Tungsten than air outside cities.
  • In general, exposure to Tungsten from the air, drinking water, and food is shallow.
  • The air contains typically less than 10 ng of Tungsten per cubic meter.
  • Occupational exposure to higher levels of Tungsten can occur when using or treating Tungsten metal.
  • Tungsten and metal alloys are available in consumer products such as electronics, lamp threads, grinding wheels, and other tools.
How Can Tungsten Affect Health?

In large doses, Tungsten compounds cause respiratory problems and behavior changes in animals. However, it is not likely to be exposed to such quantities of Tungsten by air, food, or water to produce similar effects.

Tungsten atom number 74 is the heaviest known biologically functional element, with the next heaviest being iodine (Z = 53). It is used by some bacteria but not by eukaryotic cells. In these microbes, some oxidoreductase enzymes similarly use Tungsten to Molybdenum in eukaryotic cells.

Tungsten can be considered a metabolic antagonist of copper in a role similar to that of Molybdenum.

In clinical practice, DMPS effectively mobilizes and excretes bismuth, mercury (organic and inorganic), copper, lead, arsenic, antimony, nickel, tin, tungsten, and gold. Still, it does not affect aluminum or uranium excretion. In most adult patients, mercury is the predominant metal eliminated after using DMPS. DMPS-mobilized metals are mainly excreted by the kidneys and, to a lesser extent, by the liver (bile/stool). Another chelating agent for the mobilization of metals by the body, DMSA, is used in challenge tests and for detoxification from lead, mercury, and other sulfhydryl reactive metals (e.g., arsenic, antimony). Several studies have shown the efficacy of DMSA in increasing renal excretion of lead and mercury and in lowering the blood levels of these metals.

How can one determine if one has been exposed to Tungsten?

We can measure the levels of Tungsten in blood and most biological materials.

Determination of metals is done by ICP-MS (Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry), a method that enables the simultaneous detection of many metals. Its sensitivity and accuracy are significantly better than conventional atomic absorption, with the ability to measure metals at concentrations up to 1 in 1015 (1 in 1 quadrillion, ppq)!



Important Note

Laboratory test results are the most important parameter for diagnosing and monitoring all pathological conditions. Between 70% and 80% of diagnostic decisions are based on laboratory tests. The correct interpretation of laboratory results allows a doctor to distinguish "healthy" from "diseased."

Laboratory test results should not be interpreted solely based on the numerical result of a single analysis. They should be interpreted in relation to each individual case, family history, clinical findings, and the results of other laboratory tests and information. Your physician should explain the importance of your test results.

At Diagnostiki Athinon, we answer any questions you may have about the test you perform in our laboratory and contact your doctor to ensure you receive the best possible medical care.

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