Study: Vape Pen Liquids from Legal and Illegal Markets Contain Nano-Sized Metals

Researchers from Health Canada and the National Research Council of Canada reported finding metal nanoparticles inside both legally and illegally sourced cannabis vape pen liquids.

Full story after the jump.

Cannabis vape pen liquid in both legal and illegal markets contains nano-sized metals, including nickel, chromium, lead, zinc, and copper, according to a study conducted by researchers from Health Canada and the National Research Council of Canada.  

The study included 41 samples of cannabis vape liquids – 20 legal, regulated samples from the Ontario Cannabis Store and 21 samples from the illicit market provided by the Ontario Provincial Police. The liquids were analyzed by mass spectrometry to look for the presence of 12 metals. High levels of nickel and zinc were found in the illegal samples, while the legal samples contained the highest levels of copper content.  

In a statement, Dr. Zuzana Gajdosechova, a scientist involved in the study, said there are potential health risks associated with nano-sized metal particles, which can be highly reactive and harmful when inhaled. 

“The evidence strongly suggests that metal contamination can come from the device when it’s produced, and not from the heating of the coils. But depending on the quality of the device, the contamination may be increased by that heating.” — Gajdosechova, in a statement, via the American Chemical Society 

While some metals, such as arsenic, mercury, and cadmium, were within the generally accepted tolerance limits for cannabis products, others were detected in very high concentrations, including lead. Some of the vapes from illegal sources sampled contained 100 times more lead than the regulated samples, far exceeding the generally accepted tolerance limit, according to the study. 

The researchers suggest that further research on vape devices is needed “to better understand the composition of the metal parts of the devices as well as other factors that promote leaching of metals into the liquids” and that “making more information about the metal components of vape device available along with the filling date of the vape device can help support and inform additional research studies and risk assessments.”    

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