I think all cannabis users agree with the fact that there shouldn’t be any harmfull metals in the products we consume. Especially with products that are bought in dispensaries or sold as medicine should be tested and safe to consume.
However lab tests of recreational cannabis products in California found particles of the heavy and toxic metal “lead” in vape cartridges. The pen-sized vaporizers became very populair in the cannabis industry and more users are starting to get them because they are easy to use and hard to detect by other people in public.
Since 1 januari 2019, all of these vape carts have to be tested on multiple heavy metals and thats not without a reason! Some of these metal are toxic and harmfull for humans and shouldn’t be consumed. Yet lab-workers found sometimes high amounts of lead in some of the vape carts.
Like said above, lead is a harmfull metal and there is no safe level of exposure according to the Centers for Disease Control. It’s a neurotoxin with nasty effects on the human body including the decrease of IQ, affecting your internal organs and eventually death. Most western countries have spend years of getting lead out of our daily products, think about banning lead paint and avoiding leaded gasoline and more!
SC labs in California reports that at least 0.5% of the vape cart batches that they test will fail because of the high percentage of lead. They say that they just have some issues with a small portion of the carts but other test-labs registered way higher fail rates with heavy metals.
But why is there lead in the vape carts?
The foundings of lead in vape carts isn’t just a problem in California, it’s common all over the world but according to Peter Hacker (Air vapor company) it all starts in chinas metal foundries. They are adding lead to other metals like copper and brass, this way the metal combination is easier to mold to parts for all type of electronics.
The chinese have been following european laws till now wich means they could add 4% or 40.000 parts per million (PPM) lead to metal for electronic devices. This is actually outdatet now. The PPM level of Lead that is allowed in cannabis products varies per state:
- California: 0.5 PPM
- Washington 1.2PPM
- Oregon has no ban on heavy metals at all
*Canada is considering to use California’s PPM standards
The problem of the cartridge
As most of us now a cartridge is a small tank made of plastic, metal or glass and contains cannabis oil. The oil leaks through a small gap and gets boiled quickly by a battery driven device. This creates a cloud of vape. These devices and containers often contain lead but that doesn’t mean the oil in the cart does.
Cannabis oil is acidic so there is a possibility that the oil is leaching small amounts of lead from the materials of the cart or vape device. This could make to oil to fail the tests. Next to that the variety of different labs, methods and results is also a problem.
70 procent of the brands selling these are using CELL carts. These carts may fail or pass the lab test in California also depending on the method and lab testing it. Most of these carts are testing at 0.6/0.7 PPM, which is too high in California but low enough for Washington or Oregon. But even if a cart was tested at 0.6 PPM, it doesn’t mean it actually contains 0.6 PPM because of different test methods. Despite all of this, CELL carts are probably the best carts being manufactured in China. Cheaper carts may contain even more lead because adding lead to the metal will decrease the production price.
The best way to avoid consuming lead is simply by not using any lead in the material of the cart and vape device. This requires big changes all up in the production chain beginning at the chinese metal foundries. Some brands already ordered lead free carts and contacted the metal foundries, but because of Chinese new year there was some delay which toke some extra time. They expect to hit the California market any day now (End of february).
Tips for users of vape carts in California
- Vape carts do have a manufactured date on their package. Carts made before 1 Jan 2019 may contain some amount of lead and are not tested in a lab. Dispensaries and brands are still allowed to sell their stock of 2018. Carts made after 1 Jan 2019 are required to be tested and contain not more then 0.5 PPM of lead. So to take a look at the date to be sure!
- If you are worried about consuming lead, it’s recommended to wait untill the lead-free carts hit the californian market. expect them this late winter/begin of spring.
- When buying on the illicit market, remember that these carts aren’t tested. Next to that they often offer the cheap ones from China with a big chance of containing lead.