Vape pens and THC cartridges are among the hottest trends in cannabis right now.
Much of the appeal lies in how easy, clean, discreet, and convenient these products are to use.
But there could be some potential downsides. For starters, this is really the first time that cannabis consumers have regularly inhaled weed vapor that’s been generated by the heating coils used inside cartridges.
Now, officials in Michigan have discovered an alarming problem. They found that some vape pens were leaching lead. As a result, state officials are urging all medical marijuana retailers to test all vape cartridges being sold.
Tests Reveal Lead in Some Vape Cartridges
The new emphasis on testing vape cartridges in Michigan comes after a batch of cartridges was found to be contaminated by lead.
As reported by Michigan news outlet MLive, the problem arises from the types of materials used in the heating coils inside vape cartridges.
In general, vape cartridges use either ceramic or metal heating coils. So far, tests have not found any consistent problems with ceramic coils.
But new tests of vape cartridges in Michigan found that some metal coils were leaching heavy metals into the cannabis concentrate.
This could be very dangerous to consumers. That’s because those heavy metal contaminants end up in the vapor being inhaled.
And that kind of exposure to lead and other similar heavy metals can lead to a number of health problems.
After detecting lead, authorities in Michigan destroyed all contaminated cartridges.
Additionally, they issued a statement to retailers urging them to test all products currently on their shelves.
Prior to this discovery, the state required that marijuana concentrates were tested. But there were no tests on the finished product after the concentrate had been put inside the cartridge.
But now that tests point to potential hazards coming from the cartridge itself, state authorities are changing their testing protocols.
They are now advising that vape cartridges are tested after they’ve been filled with oil. Ultimately, officials hope this extra testing will help detect and eliminate contamination coming from the cartridge itself.
What the Data Shows
This is actually not the first time that tests have found possible health problems arising from the heating coils used in cartridges and e-cigarettes.
In fact, a study published last year by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found some potentially big problems.
“Significant amounts of toxic metals, including lead, leak from some e-cigarette heating coils and are present in the aerosols inhaled by users,” a statement published by the university said.
In that study, researchers looked at devices owned by 56 consumers. Researchers found that a significant number of these devices leached heavy metals into the vapor being inhaled by users.
Specifically, these contaminants include lead, chromium, manganese, and nickel.
The study also said that the levels of contamination by these heavy metals could reach “unsafe levels.”
This is alarming because, as researchers summarized, “chronic inhalation of these metals has been linked to lung, liver, immune, cardiovascular and brain damage, and even cancers.”