Clinical Metals Testing

Mercury Tri-Test

Quicksilver Scientific’s CLIA-certified laboratory specializes in advanced mercury speciation testing, using the patented Mercury Tri-Test. This test utilizes samples of hair, blood, and urine to assess for the body’s mercury burden and its ability to eliminate it. This test helps practitioners and patients to understand the magnitude and source of mercury exposure, as well as if additional support is needed in the process of mercury detoxification.

The Quicksilver Mercury Tri-Test is the only clinical test that utilizes mercury speciation analysis, a patented advanced technology that separates methyl mercury (MeHg) from inorganic mercury (HgII) and measures each directly. Quicksilver Scientific’s instruments are sensitive enough to measure ambient mercury levels in the body WITHOUT THE NEED FOR CHALLENGE TESTING. This laboratory test provides unprecedented information for healthcare practitioners, allowing them to assess the patient’s exposure sources, body burden and ability to excrete each form of mercury. This detailed information helps build an informed picture and allows the clinician to plan a rational approach to a successful detoxification strategy for the patient.

What about Mercury Challenge Testing?

In the 1990’s, sensitivity of analytical equipment was not advanced enough to measure ambient (steady state) blood mercury levels. Therefore, “challenge” or “provocation” testing, using high doses of strong chelation agents, was developed to “pull” mercury out of organic cellular structure for urinary analysis under the diagnostic premise that it shows the mercury “body burden” of an individual and establishes correlation of long-term mercury burden. While mercury challenge testing was clinically relevant for the time, advances in technology and clinical study have proven challenge testing to be unreliable and even potentially damaging to the patient.

Does the "challenge test" really show the "body burden" of mercury?

Why our Mercury Tri-Test is Better Than Challenge Testing:

  1. Challenge Test does not differentiate between MeHg and Hgll. Only Total mercury level is represented (HgT).
  2. Challenge does not reflect the “pool” of mercury premise.
  3. There is no “non-challenged” reference range to compare the challenge test to; from a regulatory standpoint, there is an obvious potential for over-treatment.
  4. Lack of standardization of challenge conditions:
    1. Challenge does not reflect long-term exposure as proven by clinical trial* reference p.120.
    2. Challenge does not reflect long-term exposure as proven by clinical trial* reference.
      1. DMPS has a very different strength and specificity than DMSA.
      2. IV vs. oral administration has vastly different pharmacokinetics.
      3. Use of adjuncts such as EDTA, glutathione and glycine vastly changes the dynamics of the test and its output.
  1. Challenge exposes individual to large dose of exogenous substance.
  2. Challenge may cause redistribution of mercury into organs, including the brain.
  3. Challenge does not measure ambient mercury burden.
  4. Challenge does not elucidate elimination abilities of patient.
  5. Challenge results are skewed in individuals with renal insufficiency (common in Hgll toxicity).


The Truth About Testing: Challenge Testing Vs. Mercury Speciation Testing

For over two decades now, many clinical metals toxicologists have been relying on “challenge tests,” also called provocation tests, to diagnose mercury and other metal toxicities. The diagnostic premise of the testing is that it shows the “body burden” of the individual–that pool of deeply held metals that represents our lifetime accumulation of un-excreted metals.

The literature examining the challenge tests ranges from the years 1991 through 2001 and has thus far failed to find any evidence of the challenge tests revealing any more than recent exposures, and in some instances (Frumkin et al, 2001) failing to see exposures made clear by ambient testing. Recently, challenge tests have come under fire from federal authorities as a diagnostic tool. The problem is not really that the challenge tests have no use (especially in the case of lead, where EDTA challenge testing is documented to have slightly better correlations with bone lead than do blood lead measurements, or the case of gadolinium where levels in blood and urine are undetectable without EDTA provocation). Instead, the problem is the way they are generally used and interpreted. There are many practitioners who use the data from challenge tests in scientifically and clinically valid ways, but in general use the challenge test has three main flaws:

1. The propagation of the myth of a special relevance of the pool identified by the challenge, i.e., “body burden,” and the yes/no interpretation, i.e., “I found mercury in the patient.”
2. The use of a non-challenged reference range to compare the challenge test to; this is probably the biggest problem from a regulatory standpoint since there is such obvious potential for over-treatment.
3. The lack of standardization of the challenge conditions:
  • DMPS has very different strength and specificity than DMSA.
  • IV vs. oral administration has vastly different pharmacokinetics.
  • Use of adjuncts such as EDTA, glutathione, and glycine vastly changes the dynamics of the test and its output.

The measurement of mercury in the body and extrapolation to body burden and toxic conditions is a very complicated field, requiring acute clinical discernment, including integration of patient history, current exposures, symptomology, and effect of co-morbidities. The simplification and deification of the challenge test are no longer serving the evolution of the field of clinical metals toxicology. Now is the time for adoption of better tools!

At Quicksilver Scientific, we have developed advanced mercury test kits that:

1. Identify different sources of mercury by measuring the relative amounts of the two main forms of mercury in the body—methylmercury and inorganic mercury.
2. Quantify excretion capabilities for those two forms.


How the Mercury Tri-Test & Blood Metals Panel Differ

What are the two tests that Quicksilver offers, and how are they different?

The QS Mercury Tri-Test

Our patented speciation testing technology provides analysis for inorganic and methyl mercury, allowing specific data targeting for better defined solutions. We also offer a complete detoxification program of wholesale supplements. Quicksilver Scientific's Mercury Tri-Test is the only clinical testing suite that utilizes blood, hair, and urine to measure excretion abilities and exposure to inorganic and methyl mercury. 

Inorganic mercury (HgII) in the blood usually reflects a dental amalgam exposure, and urine is a route of excretion for it. Some is generated from the breakdown of methylmercury inside the body. Inorganic mercury is the most cytotoxic form of mercury and, therefore, an important pool to track. The urine:blood ratio gives an index of excretion efficiency for inorganic mercury.

Methylmercury (MeHg) mostly reflects seafood consumption, though some MeHg does form in the gut from swallowed amalgam-based mercury. Excretion of methylmercury is reflected in the hair. The hair:blood ratio gives an index of excretion efficiency of methylmercury.

The QS Blood Metals Panel

Quicksilver Scientific’s Blood Metals Panel screens a broad range of nutrient and toxic metals to show elevated exposures to toxic metals or imbalances of nutrient metals in whole blood.

Nutrient Elements:

Calcium, Copper, Lithium, Magnesium, Manganese, Molybdenum, Selenium, Zinc

Potentially Toxic Elements:

Arsenic, Cadmium, Cobalt, Lead, Mercury, Silver, Strontium



Blood Metals Panel

Quicksilver Scientific’s Blood Metals Panel screens for a broad range of potentially toxic and nutrient metals to show elevated exposure to toxic metals or imbalances of nutrient metals in whole blood. Results from this test can be used as a standalone screening, or to enhance information obtained from the Mercury Tri-Test. Because different protocols or support may be indicated to balance the other potentially toxic and nutrient elements in the blood, the most effective detoxification protocol can then be selected.

This whole blood elemental metals analysis uses state-of-the-art inductively coupled plasma/mass spectroscopy. The test measures levels for 15 metals, including beneficial nutrient metals and potentially toxic metals. Imbalanced mineral pairs, especially copper to zinc ratios, can often present clinically as heavy metal toxicity. Excess copper is also synergistically toxic with heavy metals, such as mercury, cadmium, arsenic and lead.

Although mercury is included among the metals assessed for in this test, it does not provide information about the different forms of mercury and the body’s ability to excrete it as the Mercury Tri-Test does. The Blood Metals Panel only provides information about total mercury in the blood, and does not differentiate between organic (methylmercury) and inorganic mercury. For more information why this is important, please read about the Mercury-Tri Test.


Science & Testing FAQ's

How do I order Quicksilver Scientific Detoxification products?

You must be a licensed practitioner to order Quicksilver Scientific's products. There are several ways to purchase our products. You can place an order through one of our Distributors. If you are wanting products in less than a case, please go to Mountain State Health Products website. If you are ordering from us, we do not sell in less than a case for wholesale pricing and all orders need to go through the website. Please go to to register as a practitioner.

Can I order a test directly or do I have to have a practitioner order it for me?

As a company our mission is to train practitioners. We STRONGLY suggest that you work with a practitioner to complete your testing. However, some states in the US will allow us to ship a test kit direct to the patient. This is referred to as a Direct Access State (DAT). The following states are considered DAT states, wherein you can order the test without having to have a practitioner order it for you. These states are: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Washington DC, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

If you are ordering a Direct Access test you MUST pre-pay on the website and order the kit through the website in order for us to send you a kit. We do not take orders for these over the phone and again you must pre-pay for a Direct Access test to be sent to you.

Due to the restrictions of the State of New York Department of Health, we cannot analyze samples taken in the state of New York. We recommend you arrange with another practitioner in a surrounding state and test with them. Our lab will not accept any samples taken in the State of New York.

If you do not live in a Direct Access Testing state, we recommend working with a practitioner regarding our testing and detoxification protocols. You can work with any practitioner you select.

How do I find a practitioner in my area that knows and understands Quicksilver?

If you do not have a practitioner to work with, our website: has a practitioner locater with contact information for practitioners who have worked with our testing and/or detoxification protocols. This is not an exclusive list. You can use any type of licensed practitioner, Accupuncurist, Chiropractor, Dentist, MD, ND, DO, OMD etc. to request the test kits for you. If you are interested in having the practitioner guide you through the detoxification program, you will need to ask them directly if they have experience in this regard. Please send us an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

How do I get my blood drawn?

Check with your doctor's office to see if they will draw your blood. We do not contract directly with any lab establishments, but you might be able to see if they will draw your blood as it varies state to state if they will work with our test.

Please note these labs are franchised and the policies do vary from lab to lab. You may also contact any local hospital and request a blood draw service through their phlebotomy lab. You would be responsible for any additional cost.

***You will need to have the following items with you when you go to get your blood draw:

  • your paperwork (PRF Form),
  • shipping materials
  • hair and urine samples

If you are using a lab please NOTE many labs cannot release the blood draw back to you after it is drawn so please do not forget to bring your entire kit with you so it can be shipped back to Quicksilver Scientific immediately from the laboratory.

How do I order the test kits?

If you are a practitioner, login to and order through our website. There is no cost up front to order kits if you are a practitioner. If you are a patient, you will only be able to order a test directly if you live in a Direct Access State (DAT) state. You still need to place an order for a DAT kit on For a Direct Access Test you will have to prepay on the website before your kit is shipped out to you. Any international kits will have to be prepaid on the website as well. If you have any questions feel free to call our office at 303-531-0861.

For ALL international kit orders, again you must order through our website, for a patient you must prepay for the shipping AND the test kit before it will be sent out. For international practitioners you must prepay for the shipping only. 

International Patients

International patients must pre-pay the full amount of the testing and the shipping before a test kit will be sent out to you. NOTE: At this time we recommend that you go through one of our international distributors to receive your test kit. Send us an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we can give you more information about our international distributors or go to International Contacts for a list of distributors.

AT THIS TIME: We do not ship to the Middle East or to Dubai or to India. As a company we are constantly working on updating availability and access to our testing and products so please keep checking back for more updates.

How long will it take to get my results after I send in my samples?

The results for the Mercury tri test typically take up to two to three weeks from the date the samples were received.  The results for the Blood Metals panel can take up to three weeks from the date we receive the samples.  We send all results to the email address provided on the PRF form which was included inside the test kit. We will only send results to who has been indicated on the PRF so if you want the results as well as your practitioner you need to make sure and indicate that. 

How much does the testing cost?

Please contact your practitioner as to the price of our tests.

This cost includes: the analysis, the kit, delivery shipping of kit and return shipping of samples to our lab. In this case, you (the patient) are responsible for locating and contacting a phlebotomy lab for the blood draw, and asking them what you need to obtain the blood draw. Practitioners please contact Quicksilver for pricing.

Will the Mercury Tri-Test test determine my mercury toxicity?

There is no test that directly measures toxicity.  Toxicity is not a level of something but rather the body’s reaction to a level.  The reaction is determined by genetics, nutritional status, presence of other synergistic toxins (e.g. lead, mold exposure, PCB’s), and presence of other pathologies such as chronic or hidden infections.  The testing informs the practitioner about levels of different forms of mercury and status of their detox pathways; the practitioner combines this with the history and clinical presentation of the patient to decide whether the metal burden in the individual is a potential problem for the patient or a contributing factor to the individual’s health state.  

How do you know the test works?

Dr. Christopher Shade explains: Regarding testing, I have a PhD in this and am steeped in the literature and data. In addition, to date have run well over 6,000 tests. It would take quite a while to convey all of this to you in writing, but genetic and epigenetic testing now is starting to show the variation in these ratios that I have been discussing. The science backs this up.

Is additional paperwork required for the blood draw?

Paperwork required to obtain a blood draw may vary from lab to lab.  Contact the lab you will use prior to your appointment to confirm what paperwork you may need.  If you do require additional paperwork outside of the included patient requisition form, your practitioner will provide you with it.  Please also confirm who will be shipping the samples back to us, you or the blood draw lab.  If the blood draw lab is to send samples back, make sure to bring all paperwork, urine, hair and shipping materials to your blood draw appointment.

After collecting samples how quickly do they need to be returned?

In order for the most accurate results we recommend that you ship the samples IMMEDIATELY. We provide a 2-day shipping label but we recommend that you send your samples no later than Wednesday as we are not here on the weekend. If you cannot ship by Wednesday we recommend that you hold on to the samples and store them in your refrigerator and send them first thing Monday morning. The samples will be viable if kept in the refrigerator over the weekend.

Can the weather/temperature affect the samples?

Yes, Blood exposed to temperatures exceeding 100 degrees for more than 6 hours can partially convert the methylmercury to inorganic mercury. Please be certain that the blood does not sit in a UPS box for over a day in warm weather. Cold weather will not affect the samples whatsoever.

Why is there a missing data point on my test result?

If there is a missing data point on your mercury tri-test that means that the levels were so low that they were not enough to show up on the graph. For more information contact your practitioner.

Why don't we use provocation agents in our Mercury test?

Mercury speciation technology has the ability to read methyl and inorganic mercury in the part per trillion range. This test is designed to see how well you excrete these toxins out of the blood.

The use of provocation agents artificially inflates the levels in the blood and urine which disrupts the biological information of how your body is dealing with its mercury load under normal day-to-day conditions. It has been reported that the provocation agents add stress to the body. If you are under stress or are already in a state of poor health, we highly recommend that you AVOID this method. The tests that we have created here at Quicksilver Scientific, however, do NOT put any stress on the body whatsoever.

Do I need to fast before the blood is drawn or for the urine collection for either test?

You do not need to fast before the blood draw portion of either test. You do, however, need to do the first morning urine, mid-stream catch, on an empty stomach with no food or water for the urine portion of the Mercury Tri Test.

The metals panel instructions state no chelating agents are to be used for a given period prior to testing. Is this because when bound to chelators the metals aren't measured and lower values therefore reported?

The metals are being mobilized from cells to blood when taking EDTA, ALA, and glutathione. This can elevate levels.   IMD is filtering the blood through the GI and this may lower…and sometimes raise…levels. Giving 7 days before retesting helps the system get to the natural equilibrium.

Is there ever a "safe" level of mercury on the blood metals panel or do you essentially always recommend speciation since inorganic mercury is toxic at such low levels?

If there is history of mercury exposure, amalgams, lots of fish consumption, it is best to get a tri-test to see what the inorganic levels are. With speciation, I like methylmercury to be in the yellow and inorganic mercury to be in the green, though target of a “deep” detox for inorganic mercury should be below 0.05ppb.