Lead Poisoning: a 12-year Report from North East of Iran

Document Type: Original Article


1 Associate Professor, Medical Toxicology Research Center, School of Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran

2 Clinical Toxicology Department, School of Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran

3 Assistant Professor, Kerman Neuroscience Research Center, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran

4 Department of Environmental Health Engineering, School of Health, Zahedan University of Medical Sciences, Zahedan, Iran

5 Assistant Professor, Social Medicine Department, School of Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran


Background: Lead poisoning is an issue of concern in developing countries and high levels of lead in blood could be resulted following occupational and environmental exposures. Several reports have raised concerns on the increasing prevalence of lead intoxication among opioid addicts. This study investigated the clinical manifestations and demographic data of subjects who were diagnosed with lead poisoning and also possible correlations of job type and opium abuse with lead poisoning.
Methods: This cross-sectional study was carried out on 82 patients admitted to Imam Reza Hospital, Mashhad, from 2004 to 2016 with the diagnosis of lead poisoning. Demographic information, clinical signs and symptoms, as well as, hematological and biochemical profiles and their possible correlations were investigated. Opium-addiction status was judged based on patient self-report.
Results: In this study, 82 patients were admitted to Toxicology Department. Patients’ age ranged between 19 and 81 years old (mean ±SD: 42.2±14.90) and 78 patients were male (95.1%). With regard to the occupational exposure, 29 individuals (35.4%) had occupational risk factors for lead poisoning; however, no significant relation was found between the type of occupation and blood lead level (p=0.95). Moreover, 43 individuals (52.4%) were opioid-addicted but opioid addiction was not significantly correlated with blood lead level (p=0.91). Among all, 70 individuals (85.4%) were anemic and with increasing blood lead level, the levels of Hb (p= 0.011, r= -0.279) and Hct (p=0.003, r= -0.332) showed significant decrease.
Conclusion: Though blood lead level was not significantly correlated with opioid addiction, but most of patients were opioid addicts. Apparently, public awareness and health-care-providers’ knowledge should be improved about the potential hazardous effects of using adulterated opium.


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