Vape pen exhale.

Vape Cartridges Containing Lead Found in California

by | Feb 6, 2019 | Latest News, Short Path, Vacuum Ovens

Vape pen exhale.

User exhaling vapor from a vape pen. Image credit: Pixababy.

Cannabis Consumers are Vulnerable

Scientifically speaking, cannabis sits in a gray area. Despite decades of testing by the government, little has been found that indicates its consumption is dangerous. 9% of users get hooked, which among addictive substances is a low rate. There’s no chance of overdose. And certain cannabinoids, or compounds specific to cannabis, are likely to have beneficial properties. CBD for one is thought to offer a number of health benefits.

Indeed, consumption of the plant in its natural state doesn’t seem so harmful, at least when compared with other intoxicants. However, since recreational markets sprouting up across the US are still technically illegal under federal law, and since these micro-markets are brand-spanking new, there seems to be little oversight. The ramjet velocity at which the green rush has moved has forced regulators to scramble in its wake. In states where quality control is in place, reporters and regulators have uncovered some unscrupulous dealings between lab owners and cultivators, with some growers paying off lab officials in order for their products to pass.

As such, some randomly tested samples have been found containing dangerous pesticides. For instance, in 2016 Berkeley-based Steep Hill Labs detected pesticides in 84% of medical cannabis samples evaluated, each taken from a California dispensary. Few grow operations in Oregon could meet state standards when their program was ushered in.

What’s more, today, as little as 7% of the legal cannabis available across the country is tested. Myclobutanil, a popular fungicide known commercially as Eagle 20, has been indicated in many contaminated samples. When ignited, myclobutanil turns into cyanide gas. Edibles ironically were the most dangerous products tested, in terms of pesticide contamination.

Attention Shifts Towards Carts

Many regulators in legalized markets are aware of the problem and are working towards ensuring widespread testing and impartially across the board. California for instance, starting at the beginning of this year, is now requiring that all cannabis products be tested. Consumers have also grown savvier too. As such, markets like Colorado are starting to carry lab test results on their packaging with the contents and chemical makeup of each product, and printing the name of the lab that tested it.

It still isn’t a perfect system. But the holes are being filled in. As such, pesticide remediation is quickly becoming a big concern in the extraction industry. This isn’t the only one. Vaporizer cartridges or “carts” are popular today. This is one of the fastest growing sectors in the industry. The idea is that vaping is safer since it doesn’t combust any plant material, which could potentially contain carcinogens. But are they really healthier?

Get the Lead out

Recently, Leafly reported that California regulators have detected lead in vape pen cartridges. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), no level of lead consumption is safe. For decades, regulators have fought to remove lead from products such as gasoline and paint. The fact that it was found in vape carts is beyond concerning.

Just to put things into perspective, SC Labs, which discovered the violation, tested thousands of carts and found about 0.5% over the legal limit. Doesn’t sound like such a big deal, unless you’re the one inhaling lead. Experts say this problem is a global issue and point to metal foundries in China as the source.

How did Lead get in There?

No one is sure. One theory, since cannabis oil is acidic, it may be pulling the lead from the cart itself into the oil. In China, lead is added to metals to make them more malleable for manufacture. While European regulations, the most strict, call for no more than 40,000 parts per million (ppm) of lead in consumer metal, California’s vape cart standard is 0.5 ppm. Washington State’s limit is 1.2 ppm. Oregon currently has no regulation on heavy metals in vape carts.

CCELL carts are the best kind China manufactures. Cheaper carts may have higher lead content. Right now, regulators are forcing lead free cartridge orders to be filled, but these foundries are closed for Chinese New Year. Officials say a shipment should arrive in California later this winter.

Ai Vacuum

This concerning find raises the fear and consciousness of cannabis consumers, not only in California but in other markets as well. As such, extractors will need to up their game and carefully monitor, not only their own process but what accompanies their products, as well. Although we can’t do much for contaminated vape carts, Ai Vacuum has your back when it comes to finishing extracts. This is one of the top post-harvest equipment providers in the industry.

For pesticide remediation, pros turn to our glass jacketed reactors. These are also great for winterization and decarboxylation. The 50-liter model is one of the most popular types. It has a wide temperature range from -110°F to 400°F. The glass is made of high borosilicate glass 3.3, the most heat, cold, and corrosion resistant available. And it even has PTFE on all sealing components, ensuring the unit lasts a long time.

Off-Gassing or Distilling?

Need to perform a butane purge? Consider one of our award-winning AccuTemp vacuum ovens. The 3.2 cu ft. model is a great choice. It’s unique, five-sided heating technology offers an incredibly rapid heat-up, superior temperature uniformity, and minimal external heat loss. It has stainless-steel internal tubing which provides a higher ultimate vacuum, holding it 10 times longer than the industry standard. It also comes UL/CSA certified, so you know you’ll be in compliance.

For distillation, select one of our short path distillation kits. Our 5-liter kit is commonly used in the industry. Each individual piece is made from heavy-wall, high borosilicate glass 3.3. This is the most durable kind you can get. A large vacuum jacket means less heat loss during distillation, while an increased head diameter means more efficient fractioning, with zero chance of clogging. And all PTFE thermo inlet adapters with Viton gaskets ensure that the kit will last a long time.

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