Objective: A common method of illegal methamphetamine production uses lead acetate as a reagent. Production errors may result in methamphetamine grossly contaminated with lead. Three reports have documented outbreaks of acute lead poisoning in intravenous methamphetamine users. Methods: This study measured blood lead concentrations in intravenous drug users of methamphetamine, cocaine or heroin presenting to the emergency department to determine the prevalence of subclinical lead poisoning in intravenous methamphetamine users. Results: Mean blood leads for methamphetamine users (n = 92) were 6.22 μ g/dL or 0.30 μ mollL (range 0.10-1.15, SD 0.20) and 7.5μ g/dL or 0.35 μ nol/L (0.10-0.80, SD 0.15) for the nonmethamphetamine users (n = 53) with no significant difference between groups. Conclusions: The data suggest that previous outbreaks of acute intravenous lead poisoning among methamphetamine users were probably related to episodic contamination of methamphetamine. Subclinical lead poisoning was not found among the methamphetamine users presenting to the emergency department.
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