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Archived Comments for: Distributing foil from needle and syringe programmes (NSPs) to promote transitions from heroin injecting to chasing: An evaluation

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  1. Potential Hazards of Aluminium Foil When Inhaling Heroin

    Kamal Chaouachi, Tobacco Researcher

    24 July 2008

    Smoked heroin users’ concerns over the thickness of the aluminium foil, its coating with oil and even the way to use it (with the dull or shiny side up) are striking when comparing this situation with the modern hookah scene in which, most of the time, kitchen foil is used.

    In the hookah (shisha, narghile), a burning coal tops the foil which covers a bowl containing the smoking mixture (called “moassel” or “tobamel” and made up, mainly, of tobacco (or a no-tobacco substitute) and molasses. While the temperature of the coal may vary between 350 and 450 °C, that of the tobamel hardly goes in excess of 150 and sometimes 200°C (*).

    In these conditions, we are still below the melting fusion point of aluminium and I am emphasising on this because I once wondered whether or not this may have posed a public health problem. I had in mind Abramson et al’ study although this reference may not necessarily be the only nor the most relevant one [1].

    Now, regarding Pizzey and Hunt’s excellently managed harm reduction intervention [2], it appears that the foil (certainly of high quality as the authors stress) is heated by a lighter or matches, therefore at a probably higher temperature. Do you think this may be a problem or not simply because the heating is very short in time ?

    Thanks for your attention.

    Kamal Chaouachi,

    (*) co-author of a study on hookah smoking in this journal.

    ___________

    [1] Abramson MJ, Wlodarczyk JH, Saunders NA, Hensley MJ. Does aluminium smelting cause lung disease? Am Rev Respir Dis. 1989 Apr;139(4):1042-57.

    [2] Pizzey R, Hunt N. Distributing foil from needle and syringe programmes (NSPs) to promote transitions from heroin injecting to chasing: an evaluation. Harm Reduction Journal 2008 (21 Jul);5(24)

    http://www.harmreductionjournal.com/content/5/1/24

    Competing interests

    no competing interest

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