Does your marijuana vaporizer release toxic heavy metals? It’s possible, study the claims.

The great vaporizer-lung crisis of late 2019, in which at least 68 people died and 2,807 were sickened by a “lung injury associated with the use of electronic cigarettes or vaping products”, or EVALI, According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s classification, lung diseases developed after using cannabis or tobacco vaporizers, was great news for the legalization of marijuana.

Although “the exact causes of the epidemic … are probably still uncertain”, according to a reputable medical journal The Lancet observed in 2020, the culprit most often blamed was vitamin E acetate, a viscous additive normally found in food that was found to coat the lung tissue of victims – used in this case to dilute marijuana oil (similarly that someone could “to cut“Cocaine).

And although at least one group dedicated to anti-marijuana legalization on several occasions claims– very falsely, as it turned out – that several people were put off by EVALI after using products purchased from legal cannabis dispensaries, almost all of the reported cases were from states without legal cannabis. In other words, any problem arising from the use of cannabis vaporizers was an illicit market problem.

This may be the case with EVALI, but spray pens are not without risk. According to recently published research, the vaporizers themselves have the potential to poison users with heavy metals, leached into the cannabis vapor during the heating process and inhaled directly into users’ lungs.

In legal states with testing requirements, cannabis oil is tested for impurities including microbial contamination as well as the “big four” of toxic heavy metals: arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and lead. .

But the oil isn’t what end users consume – they breathe in a mixture of aerosols that can include elements from the vaporizer itself, which can include heavy metals including chromium and nickel.

Studies on electronic cigarettes and nicotine vaporizers arrived higher levels of heavy metals in the blood of users than cigarette smokers, but so far little research has been done to see if the same is true for cannabis vaporizers.

And “[a]t the high voltage and temperature settings of the standard [vaporizer] devices, dissolved metals or even fine metal particles from the heating coil or liquid could have the potential to be inhaled into the consumer’s lungs, ”according to the findings of a team of researchers from Medicine Creek Analytics, a laboratory of licensed cannabis trials in Fife, Washington, recently published online before a future printing date in the peer-reviewed journal Chemical research in toxicology.

“The results indicate that chromium, copper, nickel, as well as smaller amounts of lead, manganese and tin migrate into cannabis oil and the inhaled vapor phase, which can lead to acute ingestion of ‘an amount of inhaled metals greater than the regulatory standard of several government agencies,’ they added, noting that the smoke and vapor from the cannabis flower and cannabis concentrate did not produce the same results, indicating that the devices heating vape pens were to blame.

Researchers obtained 13 different brands of vaporizer cartridges from a legal retailer in Washington state. Six were all “510-thread», The most common size of vape pen on the market; seven others had “different styles of cartridge and battery systems.”

The researchers plugged the pens into a power source connected to a wall outlet and used a “smoking machine” to mimic the breathing action of a human and extract the resulting aerosols. A total of “50 puffs” of aerosol was extracted from each cartridge, and the aerosols were then analyzed using a plasma mass spectrometer.

The researchers reported detecting “measurable levels” of chromium, nickel and copper – three metals known to be in the heating elements and coils of spray pens – in the resulting aerosols. Metals appeared to seep over time at ambient and elevated temperatures as well as during the heating process.

“The results suggest that the cartridges themselves leach metals and potentially at higher rates when the components are heated,” wrote the researchers, who noted that the cartridges “generally did not emit metals from the Big Four.” arsenic, cadmium, mercury. , and lead.

This means that the still potentially harmful aerosol would meet all state legal cannabis testing regulations, meaning state safety standards must be reassessed, the authors concluded.

Interestingly, the addition of terpenes, the chemical compounds found in plants that give cannabis strains their distinctive taste and aroma, appeared to improve metal leaching.

Why that, they did not say it. They also couldn’t determine if there was a level of added terpenes that appeared to be protective.

Since studies of e-cigarettes have shown absorption of heavy metals, similar results from structurally similar cannabis vaporizers shouldn’t be too surprising. And although government regulators fired Shelf spray products for higher than permitted lead levels found in vaporizer equipment and components, there are no reports of medical complications directly related to heavy metal contamination in the literature yet.

Even so, the results suggest that cannabis vaporizers are not always the “safest” option that their advocates often claim.

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