Portable electronic devices, referred to as “vape pens,” are popular among medical marijuana patients yet others simply because they give a convenient, discreet, and presumably benign method to administer cannabis. But how safe are vape pens and the liquid solutions in the cartridges that affix to these products? You never know what’s actually being inhaled?
It’s generally assumed that vaping is a healthier means of administration than inhaling marijuana smoke, containing noxious substances which may irritate the lungs. Since a vaporizer heats the cannabis flower or oil concentrate without burning it, the active ingredients are inhaled but no smoke is involved. At the very least that’s how it’s supposed to work.
But there might be a concealed disadvantage to vape pen, which can be manufactured (typically in China), marketed, and utilized without regulatory controls. Available online and in medical marijuana dispensaries, vape pens contain a battery-operated heating mechanism, which at high temperatures can modify solvents, flavoring agents, and various vape oil additives into carcinogens and other dangerous toxins.
Of particular concern: Propylene glycol, a traditionally used chemical that may be mixed with cannabis or hemp oil in many vape pen cartridges. A syrupy, thinning compound, propylene glycol is likewise the principal ingredient in most nicotine-infused e-cigarette solutions. At high temperatures, propylene glycol converts into tiny polymers that can ruin lung tissue.
Scientists know a whole lot about propylene glycol. It is located in a plethora of common household items-cosmetics, baby wipes, pharmaceuticals, pet food, antifreeze, etc. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada have deemed propylene glycol safe for human ingestion and topical application. But exposure by inhalation is another matter. A lot of things are safe to nibble on but dangerous to breathe.
A 2010 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health figured that airborne propylene glycol circulating indoors can induce or exacerbate asthma, eczema, and many allergic symptoms. Children were reported to be particularly responsive to these airborne toxins. An earlier toxicology review warned that propylene glycol, ubiquitous in hairsprays, may be harmful because aerosol particles lodge deep within the lungs and they are not respirable.
When propylene glycol is heated by way of a red-hot metal coil, the possible harm from inhalation exposure increases. High voltage heat can modify propylene glycol along with other vaping additives into carbonyls. Carbonyls are a small group of cancer-causing chemicals which includes formaldehyde, which was connected to spontaneous abortions and low birth weight. A known thermal breakdown product of propylene glycol, formaldehyde is definitely an International Agency for Research on Cancer group 1 carcinogen.
As a result of low oral toxicity, propylene glycol is classified through the FDA as “generally defined as safe” (GRAS) to use as being a food additive, but this assessment was based upon toxicity studies that did not involve heating and breathing propylene glycol.
Prevalent in nicotine e-cig products and offer in many vape oil cartridges, FDA-approved flavoring agents pose additional risks when inhaled rather than eaten. The flavoring compounds smooth and creamy (diacetyl and acetyl propionyl) are connected with respiratory illness when inhaled in tobacco e-cigarette devices. Another hazardous-when-inhaled-but-safe-to-eat flavoring compound is cinnamon ceylon, which becomes cytotoxic when aerosolized.
Currently, there is absolutely no conclusive evidence that frequent users will develop cancer or any other illness if they inhale the items in vape oil cartridges. That’s because little is actually known regarding the short or long term health outcomes of inhaling propylene glycol as well as other substances that are present in flavored vape pen cartridges. Many of these prefilled cartridges are poorly labeled with little if any meaningful information about their contents.
The chance that vape kits might expose people to unknown side effects underscores the necessity of adequate safety testing for these particular products, which to date is lacking.
Scientists face several challenges because they make an effort to gather relevant safety data. As yet, nobody has determined just how much e-cig vapor the typical user breathes in, so different studies assume different quantities of vapor his or her standard, so that it is hard to compare results. Tracing what occurs to the vapor once it can be inhaled is equally problematic.
The biggest variable will be the device itself. The performance for each vape pen may vary greatly between different devices and quite often there exists considerable variance when comparing two devices of the same model.
Some vape pens require pressing a control button to charge the heating coil; others are buttonless then one activates the battery just by sucking in the pen. The top part of the vape pen’s heating element along with its electrical resistance play a big role in converting ingestible solvents into inhalable toxins.
Another confounding factor is the scant information about when and how long the consumer pushes the button or inhales generally, how long the coil gets hot, or even the voltage used in the heating process. A five-volt setting yielded higher degrees of formaldehyde inside a controlled propylene glycol study cited in the New England Journal of Medicine.
In the case of vape pens, there’s an excellent necessity for specific research on how people actually start using these products in the real world to be able to understand potential benefits or harms.
Such research has been conducted utilizing the Volcano vaporizer, the first generation vaping device that is different from a vape pen, a more recent innovation, in several ways. Employed in numerous studies as being a medical delivery device, the Volcano is just not a portable contraption. The Volcano only heats raw cannabis flower, not oil extract solutions, and it doesn’t combust the bud.
Vape pen manufacturers don’t like to admit it, however, when the heating element gets red hot in a vape pen, the perfect solution in the prefilled cartridges undergoes a procedure called “smoldering,” a technical term for the purpose is tantamount to “burning.” While much of the vape oil liquid is vaporized and atomized, a part of the vape oil blend undergoes pyrolysis or combustion. In that sense, the majority of the vcheap vape pen starter kit who have flooded the commercial market might not be true vaporizers.
Unlike vape pen devices, the Volcano vaporizer is tested for safety and pharmacokinetics (a measurement of what’s within the blood and just how long it stays there). Collectively, the data vapeopen that vaporizing whole plant cannabis exposes the consumer to decrease levels of carcinogens in comparison with smoke and decreases unwanted effects (including reactions on the harshness of smoke).
But nonportable vaporizers much like the Volcano may still pose health problems in the event the vaporized cannabis flower is below acceptable botanical safety standards. A newly released article inside the Journal of Analytical Methods notes that high quantities of ammonia are produced from vaporizing cannabis grown incorrectly, perhaps because of the lack of flushing during hydroponic cultivation. There’s an expanding body of web data suggesting the chemicals employed to push the plant towards unnaturally high THC concentrations stay in the finished product.