Determination of Heavy Metals in the Common Smokeless Tobacco Afzal in Oman

Nawal Al-Mukhaini, Taher Ba-Omar, Elsadig Eltayeb, Aisha Al-Shehi


Objectives: Afzal is an illegally sold smokeless tobacco product (STP) commonly used by youths and teenagers in Oman. The aim of this study was to analyse the composition of Afzal, also commonly known as sweekah, as it is believed to contain many carcinogens and toxic components. In particular, Afzal’s heavy metal content includes cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr), lead (Pb) and nickel (Ni). Methods: This study was conducted between March and June 2013. Three samples of Afzal were first dried and then ground to form a homogenous powder. The powder was digested prior to the heavy metal analysis by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICPMS). Results: Afzal was shown to have high levels of all heavy metals except for Ni and Pb, which were detected in quantities below acceptable international limits. The concentrations of the tested metals were 15.75 μg/g, 1.85 μg/g, 1.62 μg/g and 1.57 μg/g for Cr, Cd, Pb and Ni, respectively. The estimated daily intake of heavy metals from Afzal was below the maximum permissible limit accepted by the Food and Agriculture Organization and World Health Organization, except for Cr and Ni which were found to be dangerously elevated when compared with international standards. Conclusion: The results of this study showed that Afzal contains a number of heavy metals that may cause health problems. Therefore, urgent regulation of the illegal sale of Afzal is needed at the national level in Oman along with a campaign to address public health education and awareness of Afzal and its health risks.


Smokeless Tobaccos; Heavy Metals; Spectrum Analysis; Oman.

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Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University, PO Box 35, Postal Code 123, Al-Khod, Muscat, Oman

ISSN (Print edition): 2075-051X ISSN (Internet edition): 2075-0528

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