Private Lab Results is a leader in providing accurate, professional lab testing for cremated remains.

We can test for evidence of heavy metal poisons like arsenic, mercury, lead, chromium, and cadmium.

cremated remains ashes testing

Should you have cremated remains (ashes) tested for heavy metal poisons and toxins?

Did your loved one work in the manufacturing, airline, plating, or metal or chemical production industry?  Were they farmers?  Unfortunately, jobs in these industries can expose a person to excessive amounts of toxic heavy metals. Was the deceased in the military, married to military, or a civilian that worked on a military base? If so, they may have been around dangerous levels of metals. Did they have metal implants, like a hip or knee replacement? Studies show that these devices can cause toxic poisoning. Do you have reason to believe that the person was deliberately poisoned?  Drugs or medications do not survive the cremation process, but if they were given arsenic, mercury, or another heavy metal based poison, we can test for evidence.

If you suspect the cause of death may be from heavy metal poisoning, contact us. Private Lab Results will test the cremated remains for the 5 most commonly found heavy metal poisons or toxins: arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury. If you want the remains tested for another metal based toxin, let us know.  We can also test for a single metal. You only need to send us a small portion of the remains to test your suspicions. If you are comfortable handling the ashes you can send us 1 tablespoon and we’ll test them.  If not, you can send the entire urn and when testing is complete the remaining ashes will be returned to you.

Do you suspect a heavy metal toxin other than lead, cadmium, mercury, chromium, or arsenic may be  at play?  Contact us.  We may be able to look for your specific concern. Let us help you find the answers you are looking for.  To test for all five toxins is $450.  A single test for a specific metal is $250.

Are you concerned that you may not have received actual human remains?  Do you have the ashes of the person you thought you had?  We also offer DNA testing to aid in confirming the identity of the remains.

Private Lab Results how to mail cremated remains

Cremated Remains (Ashes) testing for poisons or toxins

Cremated Remains (Ashes) Testing FAQ

Q: What are cremains?

A: The ashes of a body that has been cremated.

Q: How do I order a test?

A: Contact us at or call 800-908-9117.  We’ll send you an invoice you can pay online.  Once we receive payment notification, we’ll send you an email with shipping instructions along with chain of custody and return forms.  Testing takes about 10 business days.

Q: Can you test ashes or cremated remains to see if someone died of poisoning?

A: Yes – if the poison was heavy metal based. After a body has been cremated the only toxins or poisons that remains will be heavy metal based. Drugs, pharmaceuticals, or chemicals are destroyed during the cremation process. Only metal based drugs are left behind.  When cause of death is suspected to be from heavy metal poisons or toxins, Private Lab Results can test the cremated remains, or ashes, for the 5 most commonly found poisons or toxins, which are arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury with our heavy metal panel.  If you are looking for a specific metal, contact us to arrange testing.

Q: One of the 5 heavy metals “toxins/poisons” that your laboratory tests for is arsenic. What is arsenic and what are the symptoms if someone has ingested it?

A: Arsenic has been named ‘The King of Poisons’ because of its potency and discreetness and the fact that it’s virtually undetectable. Since arsenic is rapidly cleared from the blood, blood arsenic levels may not be very useful in diagnosis. If acute arsenic poisoning is suspected an x- ray may reveal the substance in the abdomen. Arsenic may also be detected in the hair, bones, and nails for months following ingestion. Arsenic is readily available, tasteless, and is typically administered in a series of smaller doses that causes a period of illness before death. This is why it’s the weapon of choice among those who murder by poison. Within twenty four hours of ingestion arsenic moves from the blood directly into the victim’s kidneys, liver, lungs, spleen & the gastrointestinal tract. In 2 to 4 weeks traces can be found in the victim’s skin, nails, and hair. From there, traces of the poison settle in the bones. Within 35 minutes after ingesting arsenic the victim will experience garlic smelling breath, muscle cramping, metallic taste, headaches, vomiting, vertigo, diarrhea and abdominal pain. If the victim doesn’t die within the first few hours from shock, the poisoned victim will most likely die several days later from kidney failure. If the victim survives 2 to 4 weeks they will experience horrible suffering and will start losing their hair. When death finally comes it will most likely be diagnosed as renal failure.

Q: One of the 5 heavy metals “toxins/poisons” that your laboratory tests for is cadmium. What is cadmium and how and where is it used? Also what are the symptoms if someone has been exposed to cadmium?

A: Cadmium is a highly toxic metal found in industrial workplaces. Due to its low exposure limit, over exposures may occur even in situations where very small quantities of cadmium are found. Cadmium is used extensively in electroplating, although the nature of the operation does not always lead to overexposure. Cadmium is also found in industrial paints and can present a hazard when sprayed. Operations involving removal of cadmium paints by blasting or scraping can pose a significant hazard. Cadmium is also present in the production of batteries. Exposure to cadmium can be found in the following industries: construction industry, shipyard employment, and the agricultural industry.

Q: One of the 5 heavy metals “toxins/poisons” that your laboratory tests for is chromium. What is chromium and how and where is it used? Also what are the symptoms if someone has been exposed to chromium?

A: Chromium compounds are added to steel to increase corrosion resistance, hardenability, and are used in paints and dyes and the tanning of leather. Chromium compounds are often found in groundwater and soil at abandoned industrial complexes that are now in need of environmental cleanup. Chromium has also been used to produce paint primer and is still widely used for automobile refinishing applications. Chromium is known to cause cancer and targets the kidneys, skin, eyes, and especially the respiratory system.

Q: One of the 5 heavy metals “toxins/poisons” that your laboratory tests for is lead. What is lead and how and where is it used? Also what are the symptoms if someone has been exposed to lead?

A: Lead poisoning occurs when lead builds up in the body, often over a period of months or years. Even modest amounts of lead can cause severe health problems. Children less than the age of 6 are more vulnerable to lead poisoning, which can profoundly affect physical and mental development. At higher levels, lead poisoning often causes death. Lead contaminated dust and lead-based paint in homes or buildings built before 1978  are the most common source of poisoning in children. According to the CDC, 24 million homes in the US still contain lead paint.  Lead piping and plumbing are also a significant source of lead contamination. Individuals who work in auto repair shops, do home renovations, make ammunition, or work with batteries may also be exposed to lead.


Q: What if I suspect a metal other than lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, or chromium?

A: We can add an additional metal or metals to our standard test for an additional fee of $75 per metal.  Just contact us and we’ll adjust the test for you.

Q: One of the 5 heavy metals “toxins/poisons” that your laboratory tests for is mercury. What is mercury and how and where is it used? Also what are the symptoms if someone has been exposed to mercury?

A: Mercury poisoning is a type of metal poisoning & a medical condition caused by exposure to mercury and or its compounds. Mercury is a heavy metal that occurs in various forms. All of these forms can produce severe toxicity or even death. Signs of exposure include chronic damage to the lungs, kidneys, and brain. Mercury poisoning can manifest in several diseases including Minamata disease, Hunter Russell syndrome, and pink disease. Symptoms include vision, hearing, and speech impairment, along with a lack of coordination and sensation. The degree & type of symptoms displayed depend upon the dose, method, and duration of the exposure. Mercury is in our air from heating oil, jet fuel, and diesel. It deposits itself in our water and on land then concentrates itself in our food chain.Me rcury is also expended by cremation facilities, dental offices, medical waste disposal facilities, coal-burning power plants, and by oil refineries. When mercury enters our water supply, bacteria converts it to toxic methylmercury which builds up in fish. Eating fish that contains mercury will cause the mercury to accumulate in our bodies. Mercury is also used in a wide variety of consumer products such as: fluorescent light bulbs, auto switches, electrical fixtures, thermostats, and dental fillings.

Cremated Remains (Ashes) testing for poisons or toxins

Client questions & answers pertaining to testing remains for the presence of heavy metals, poisons & toxins.

QUESTION: Phil T. Gulfport, Mississippi: My dad died suddenly of kidney failure at 53 after working at the same oil refinery for 32 years. I was reading on your website about how mercury can be in the air and in the ground at oil refineries. Is it possible that my dad died of mercury poisoning? My mom decided to not do an autopsy and dad was cremated by a local funeral home. Should I have his remains tested?

Private Lab Results Answer: We are sorry for your family’s loss. Testing a loved one’s remains for heavy metal toxins & poisons is typically a family decision. However if you decide that you’d like to have your father’s cremated remains (ashes) tested, Private Lab Results can help. Once a 5 heavy metals toxins/poisons laboratory test has been ordered, a small amount of the cremains -ashes- will need to mailed to us for testing. For instructions on how to submit cremated remains for testing, just follow the how to instructions provided. Please note that the small portion of remains that are submitted cannot be returned after they’ve been submitted for toxin & poison laboratory testing.

QUESTION: Kerri T. Louisville, Kentucky: I have a question about chromium exposure and how it would affect someone. My husband was a nonsmoker and passed away of lung cancer at 45. He was a pipe fitter and welder his entire life and specialized in welding stainless steel and something called chromium-molybdenum piping. I’d like to have his remains tested for chromium, however I don’t want to have his body exhumed. Are there other options?

Private Lab Results Answer: Being that chromium is added to steel to increase corrosion resistance & hardenability, and the fact that your husband welded these specific metals, you definitely have reason to suspect chromium poisoning. If there was an autopsy performed prior to burial, our lab can test blood, organ tissue, and tissue biopsy. However if an autopsy was not performed, hair, finger nails, toe nails, nail scrapings and teeth are also options. Here’s some additional information about chromium that may help you.

Chromium is usually produced by an industrial process and is known to cause cancer. In it targets the kidneys, skin, eyes, and especially the respiratory system. The main source of worker exposure to chromium occurs when an individual is welding on stainless steel or other alloy steels containing chromium metal. It’s estimated that over half a million workers are potentially exposed to chromium in the United States. Workplace exposure occurs mainly in these areas: Welding stainless steel or other metals that contain chromium, the use of spray paints and coatings especially tied to automotive paints, and in the operating process of chrome plating baths.

QUESTION: Edith B. Winnipeg, Canada: I’m writing on the behalf of myself and my 2 sisters. My father was somewhat of a wealthy man that died 6 months ago under odd circumstances. After our mother passed away, my father relied on us to help manage his household bills and his investments. Eventually my father hired a lady to come clean his home and cook 3 days a week. After 10 months the “cleaning lady” moved in his home and started cleaning him out. Per her request, my father no longer allowed us to help with his finances and our names were removed from his bank accounts and her name was added. When my father suddenly passed away, we learned that his entire estate had been left to her and that she had power of attorney. Towards the end of his life our father showed all the signs that your website outlined for arsenic poisoning and we have a suspicion she might have poisoned him for his house and investments. However he passed away on a Monday and his “housekeeper” had him cremated on Wednesday. We have his remains, but can you really test his ashes for arsenic or other poisons?

Private Lab Results Answer: Yes – Even if a body has been cremated, his or her remains can be tested. When cause of death is suspected to be from poisoning, our lab will test for arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury.