Test Catalog

Test ID: SBWB    
Antimony, Blood

Useful For Suggests clinical disorders or settings where the test may be helpful

Determining antimony toxicity

Clinical Information Discusses physiology, pathophysiology, and general clinical aspects, as they relate to a laboratory test

Antimony is a silvery white metal that is used in alloys for lead batteries, solder, sheet metal, bearings, castings, ammunition, and pewter. It is also used for pigments, abrasives, flame-proofing fabrics, and in medications (ie, sodium stibogluconate [Pentostam], which is used to treat cutaneous leishmaniasis).(1) Antimony typically enters the environment during mining, processing of ores, emissions from coal-burning power plants, and production of alloys. Exposure to antimony can occur through inhalation, ingestion, or dermal contact with soil, water, foods, or medications that contain it. In the workplace, exposure is usually via inhalation. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set a limit of 0.5 mg/m(3) of antimony in workroom air to protect workers during an 8-hour work shift (40-hour workweek).(2)


Absorption of antimony through the lungs may take days to weeks. Absorption of antimony from ingestion typically enters the blood within a few hours.(2) The amount and form of the antimony affects how much is absorbed. Once in the blood, antimony is then distributed to the liver, lungs, intestines, and spleen. Elimination is primarily through the urine over several weeks. The half-life varies with the chemical form. Trivalent antimony is primarily bound to erythrocytes, while pentavalent antimony is primarily found in plasma, which makes whole blood the preferred specimen to analyze for acute intoxication. Whole blood concentrations in healthy subjects not exposed to antimony averaged 0.7 mcg/L and usually don’t exceed 2 mcg/L.(3) In battery plant workers, median blood antimony concentrations of 2.6 mcg/L were found in metal casters and 10 mcg/L in metal formers.(4)


The effects of acute or chronic antimony poisoning are similar to arsenic and include abdominal pain, dyspnea, nausea, vomiting, dermatitis, and visual disturbances.(1) Additionally, toxicity can include pneumoconiosis, and altered electrocardiograms.(2)

Reference Values Describes reference intervals and additional information for interpretation of test results. May include intervals based on age and sex when appropriate. Intervals are Mayo-derived, unless otherwise designated. If an interpretive report is provided, the reference value field will state this.

0-2 ng/mL (unexposed)

3-10 ng/mL (exposed)

Interpretation Provides information to assist in interpretation of the test results

Normal blood concentrations are 0.7-2 ng/mL in the unexposed, and 2.6-10 ng/mL in exposed workers.(3)

Cautions Discusses conditions that may cause diagnostic confusion, including improper specimen collection and handling, inappropriate test selection, and interfering substances

To avoid contamination during specimen collection, it is essential to follow collection procedures as outlined in Trace Metals Analysis Specimen Collection and Transport in Special Instructions.

Clinical Reference Recommendations for in-depth reading of a clinical nature

Special Instructions Library of PDFs including pertinent information and forms related to the test