Portable electronics, called “vape pens,” are popular among medical marijuana patients and others since they supply a convenient, discreet, and presumably benign method to administer cannabis. But just how safe are vape pens and the liquid solutions in the cartridges that connect to these devices? You never know what’s actually being inhaled?
It’s generally assumed that vaping is really a healthier approach to administration than inhaling marijuana smoke, containing noxious substances which could 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 designed to work.
But there may be a concealed disadvantage to vape pens, that are manufactured (typically in China), marketed, and utilized without regulatory controls. Available on the internet and in medical marijuana dispensaries, vape pens contain a battery-operated heating mechanism, which at high temperatures can transform solvents, flavoring agents, and other vape oil additives into carcinogens and other dangerous toxins.
Of particular concern: Propylene glycol, a widely used chemical that is blended with cannabis or hemp oil in numerous vape pen cartridges. A syrupy, thinning compound, propylene glycol is also the principal ingredient in most of nicotine-infused electronic cigarette solutions. At high temperatures, propylene glycol converts into tiny polymers that will ruin lung tissue.
Scientists know a great deal about propylene glycol. It is found in an array 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 yet another matter. Numerous things are secure to consume but dangerous to breathe.
A 2010 study published within the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health concluded that airborne propylene glycol circulating indoors can induce or exacerbate asthma, eczema, and several allergic symptoms. Children were reported to be particularly sensitive to these airborne toxins. An earlier toxicology review warned that propylene glycol, ubiquitous in hairsprays, may be harmful because aerosol particles lodge deep in the lungs and they are not respirable.
When propylene glycol is heated from a red-hot metal coil, the possibility harm from inhalation exposure increases. High voltage heat can transform propylene glycol and other vaping additives into carbonyls. Carbonyls are a team of cancer-causing chemicals that includes formaldehyde, that has been linked to spontaneous abortions and low birth weight. A known thermal breakdown product of propylene glycol, formaldehyde is undoubtedly an International Agency for Research on Cancer group 1 carcinogen.
As a result of low oral toxicity, propylene glycol is classified with the FDA as “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) to be used as a food additive, but this assessment was based on toxicity studies that did not involve heating and breathing propylene glycol.
Prevalent in nicotine e-cig products and present in a few vape oil cartridges, FDA-approved flavoring agents pose additional risks when inhaled as opposed to 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 experience cancer or other illness should they inhale the contents of vape oil cartridges. That’s because little is really known regarding the short or long term health negative effects of inhaling propylene glycol as well as other substances that are present in flavored vape pen cartridges. A number of these prefilled cartridges are poorly labeled with a minimum of meaningful information about their contents.
The chance that vape kits might expose people to unknown health risks underscores the significance of adequate safety testing for these particular products, which to date has become lacking.
Scientists face several challenges as they try and gather relevant safety data. As yet, no person has determined exactly how much e-cig vapor the typical user breathes in, so different studies assume different amounts of vapor as his or her standard, so that it is challenging to compare results. Tracing what will happen for the vapor once it really is inhaled is equally problematic.
The greatest variable may be the device itself. The performance of each vape pen can vary greatly between different devices and quite often there may be considerable variance when comparing two devices of the same model.
Some vape pens require pressing a button to charge the heating coil; other people are buttonless and one activates battery by simply sucking around the pen. The top portion of the vape pen’s heating element and its electrical resistance play a big role in converting ingestible solvents into inhalable toxins.
Another confounding factor is definitely the scant info on when and how long the person pushes the button or inhales on average, just how long the coil heats up, or even the voltage used during the heating process. A five-volt setting yielded higher amounts of formaldehyde in a controlled propylene glycol study cited from the New England Journal of Medicine.
In the case of vape pens, there’s a fantastic necessity for specific research on how people actually utilize these products in the real world in order to understand potential benefits or harms.
Such studies have been conducted making use of the Volcano vaporizer, an initial generation vaping device that is different from a vape pen, an even more recent innovation, in several ways. Utilized in clinical trials like a medical delivery device, the Volcano is 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 want to admit it, however, when the heating element gets red hot inside a vape pen, the solution in the prefilled cartridges undergoes an activity called “smoldering,” a technical term for what is tantamount to “burning.” While much of the vape oil liquid is vaporized and atomized, a area of the vape oil blend undergoes pyrolysis or combustion. For the reason that sense, most of the vvape pen starter kit with juice who have flooded the commercial market is probably not true vaporizers.
Unlike vape pen devices, the Volcano vaporizer has become tested for safety and pharmacokinetics (a measurement of what’s within the blood and how long it stays there). Collectively, the information vapeopen that vaporizing whole plant cannabis exposes the person to reduce quantities of carcinogens in comparison to smoke and decreases unwanted effects (like reactions towards the harshness of smoke).
But nonportable vaporizers much like the Volcano can still pose health problems in the event the vaporized cannabis flower is below acceptable botanical safety standards. A newly released article from 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 increasing body of data suggesting how the chemicals utilized to push the plant towards unnaturally high THC concentrations stay in the finished product.