There is a newly published study in the American Chemical Society Omega publication that looks at the additive effects due to the mixture of ingredients found in the vapor producing milieu. I am posting again about vaping and the risks associated with this habit. Mixture toxicology has long been a mystery shrouded in the combination of toxins and the potential effects. Is it additive? Is it synergistic? Is it complementary? Is it negating? The reality of mixtures is that it just isn’t known and the basic mechanistic research is not available on the multiple toxins acting in a single exposure. Hence, the call for alarm from vaping mixtures, especially in lieu of health effects, deaths and new emerging research.
Researchers at Portland State University are investigating the effect of additives on vaping products. Rob Strongin, Chemistry Professor and research lead, is specifically looking at the chemical reaction that occurs when cannabis is consumed using a vape pen or dab rig. Like most products that are inhaled through combustion, the listed ingredients of the product are altered once ignited. The study found that of the known toxins formed during vaping, more came from terpenes than THC. Strongin noted that vendors were adding up to 30% (or more) additional terpenes to their products. These terpenes have a significant impact on the taste and smell of the product.
Strongin said, “It’s not the active ingredients, like THC or nicotine, that appear to be causing the hospitalizations and deaths, but what they are combined with.” He continued, “Vitamins and thickening agents like Vitamin E have unknown effects on the lungs, and they can undergo reactions during vaping to produce both well-known and potential aerosol toxins”.
This habit is new. There are no large databases of knowledge of what happens when people use these mixtures in new ways. Consumption of cannabis by nontraditional methods has surged since the advent of legalization in North America and worldwide. Inhaling cannabis extract using vaporizers and via dabbing has risen in popularity, while concerns over product safety have not hindered their proliferation. Primarily used in the younger population, there could be an influence of being immortal in their minds.
The new study likely represents a first step toward assessing the safety of using concentrated cannabis extracts as a function of gas-phase reaction products. The gas-phase thermal degradants of Δ9 – tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) have not been previously investigated. It was found that users may be exposed to concerning degradants such as methacrolein, benzene, and methyl vinyl ketone when using cartridge vaporizers and dabbing. It was shown that THC alone and mixed with terpenes generated similar degradation products and, most notably, elevated levels of isoprene. Importantly, it was shown that added terpenes led to higher levels of gas-phase products compared to THC alone. So basically there is an overload of reactive substances unleashed in ones body with the use of these products. A few uses may be seen as no big deal and shrugged off. Over time, every exposure adds up and collectively affect change in the users body though decreased cellular function, inhibited DNA repair enzymes, decreased reserves of antioxidant materials. Eventually, one has to pay the piper. It may take years, but the day will arrive.
The paper does estimate cancer and noncancer risks associated with exposure to these and other degradants, quantitative risk assessment was applied to experimentally determined values for dabbing and vaping and literature-sourced levels of hazardous components in cannabis smoke. The process is not without risk.
Overall, gas-phase aerosol products had significantly lower values in dabbing and vaporizing compared to cannabis smoking. I guess that means that if one vapes rather than smokes a bowl, they will just die slower. That is the beauty of our society as it is every individuals choice to use or not to use. Maybe the benefit of a quick look into the future would be useful for lots of decisions that are made in younger years. Too bad the older version of you is the one who has to cover the decisions of youth. Ironic I think.
The entire article can be seen at this link: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acsomega.9b02301.
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Dr. Joe Nieusma and the Superior Toxicology & Wellness Team