Section: 7 | Chemical Constituents of Human Blood |
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John R. Rumble, ed., CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, 103rd Edition (Internet Version 2022), CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, Boca Raton, FL.
If a specific table is cited, use the format: "Physical Constants of Organic Compounds," in CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, 103rd Edition (Internet Version 2022), John R. Rumble, ed., CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, Boca Raton, FL.


This table lists typical concentrations of some of the chemical constituents of human blood. The table covers elements and compounds of relatively low molecular weight. Refs. 1 and 4 give extensive information on enzymes, hormones, vitamins, and other blood constituents.

The values given for the normal range refer to healthy adults who have not been exposed to unusual environmental agents. In keeping with IUPAC practice, all values refer to a volume of one liter, and thus are stated in units of g/L, mg/L, μg/L, or mmol/L. Many clinical test results, especially in the United States, are reported on a deciliter (dL) rather than on a liter basis; thus, the values in this table should be divided by 10 to place them on a dL basis.  In some cases, only a single mean value has been reported, rather than a range; these are given in italics.

The total volume of blood in a 100 kg (220 lb) adult is 7.5 L for a male and 6.7 L for a female. The corresponding volume of plasma is 4.4 L and 4.3 L, respectively (Ref. 1).

Values from Ref. 1 are so-called “reference values” against which clinical tests of blood chemistry are compared. The Lower limit and Upper limit define the “normal range,” which is understood to include about 95% of the healthy population. The remaining 5% may show values outside the normal range without necessarily implying a medical problem. Note that these reference values may vary slightly from one testing laboratory to another, depending on the detailed test procedure.

Accurate measurements on trace elements are very difficult to make, and wide variations can be found in the literature. Preferred measurement methods are discussed in Refs. 2 and 6. Values for the trace elements can also vary from one country to another, depending on dietary or environmental factors. Thus, cadmium levels tend to be higher in Japan because of the prevalence of seafood in the diet, and lead levels are higher in regions where lead additives are still used in gasoline. Variations with gender, age, geography, and occurrence of diseases are reviewed in Ref. 6.

The Critical values column gives levels that deviate far enough from the normal range to suggest a probable medical issue. Such values from Ref. 3 are the Biological Exposure Indexes (BEI) that are specified by the American Council of Government Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) as danger signals for the levels of pollutants in the workplace. NOTE: These data are presented for educational purposes only and are NOT medical advice; consult a medical professional for medical advice.

Column definitions for the table are as follows.

Column heading Definition
Name Name of chemical constituent
Source Nature of blood samples to which values apply; S (for serum), P (plasma), and WB (whole blood)  
Unit Units for lower limit, upper limit, and critical level; see discussion above on variety of practices for reporting clinical results 
Lower limit Lower concentration limit of “normal range”; see discussion above
Upper limit Upper concentration limit of “normal range”; see discussion above
Critical values Concentration levels that deviate from the “normal range” to suggest a probable medical issue. NOTE: These data are presented for educational purposes only and are NOT medical advice; consult a medical professional for medical advice
Ref. Source of data values


  1. Wallach, J., Interpretation of Diagnostic Tests, Eighth Edition, Wolters Kluwer, Philadelphia, 2007.
  2. IUPAC Commission on Toxicology, “Sample Collection Guidelines for Trace Elements in Blood and Urine,” Pure & Appl. Chem., 67, 1575, 1995. []
  3. 2008 TLVs and BEIs, American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists, 1330 Kemper Meadow Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45240–1634, 2008 <>.
  4. Altman, P. L., and Dittmer, D. S., Eds., Biology Data Book, Second Edition, Vol. III, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, Bethesda, MD, 1974.
  5. Bowen, H. J. M., Trace Elements in Biochemistry, Academic Press, New York, 1966.
  6. Versieck, J., and Cornelis, R., Trace Elements in Human Plasma or Serum, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, 1989.

Constituents of Human Blood

Critical valuesRef.
Continued on next page...
AntimonyS,Pμg/L 16
BariumS,Pμg/L 794,5
BerylliumS,Pμg/L <44,5
Bicarbonate (HCO3-)WBmmol/L2228<10 or >401
Calcium, totalSmg/L90105<65 or >1401
Calcium ion (Ca++)WBmg/L30451
Carbon dioxidePmmol/L2130<11 or >401
Carbon monoxide*WB%CO-Hb05%30%1
Chloride (Cl)Smmol/L98106<80 or >1151
  • *Measured as the percent of hemoglobin bound to CO. Typical value for heavy smokers is 5%–10%. Major symptoms begin around 30%, and respiratory failure sets in at >60%.
  • **This is the desirable upper limit. Values between 2000 and 2400 mg/L are considered borderline high.

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