Comparing Blood Lead Level among Oral/inhaled Opium Addicts with a Non-addict Control Group in the Southeast of Iran

Alireza Nemati, Shima Jafari, Mahdi Afshari, Somayeh Dahmardeh, Kaveh Tabrizian


Background: Opium is widely used among addicts in the Middle East countries such as Iran. Recent reports suggest that opium sellers cheat their customers by adding lead to the opium. Contaminated opium can threaten the health of consumers. This study was designed to evaluate the lead concentration in blood sample of oral and inhaled opium user’s referring to Amir Al-Momenin Hospital in Zabol, Iran, during spring 2015 in comparison with those of control group.

Methods: Blood lead level (BLL) of 188 subjects with a mean age of 52.06 years in three categories - including oral opium addicted (55 patients), inhaled opium addicted (55 patients), and healthy control group (n = 78) - was assessed. The BLL of all the subjects was assessed using an atomic absorption spectrophotometer.

Findings: Almost all participants consumed “Tariak” (99.09%). Mean ± standard deviation (SD) duration of opium addiction was 13.21 ± 10.26 years. The average blood lead concentration among oral users, inhaled users, and control group were 34.31 ± 21.54, 41.13 ± 26.40, and 9.86 ± 4.40 µg/dl, respectively (P = 0.001).

Conclusion: Our study showed significant differences of BLLs between opium users and control group. We also did not find any association between blood lead concentration and method of opium consumption.


Blood lead level; Opium; Addict

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