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J Occup Environ Hyg. 2013;10(11):622-39. doi: 10.1080/15459624.2013.831986.

Potential exposures associated with indoor marijuana growing operations.

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  • 1a Occupational Medicine, National Jewish Health , Denver , Colorado.

Abstract

We entered a total of 30 indoor marijuana grow operations (IMGO) with law enforcement investigators in order to determine potential exposures to first responders. Samples for airborne fungal spores, volatile organic compounds, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) were obtained as well as the identification of chemicals utilized in the IMGO. The chemicals utilized within the IMGOs were primarily pesticides and fertilizers with none showing high toxicity. Although several of the IMGOs had CO2 enrichment processes involving combustion, CO levels were not elevated. THC levels were identified on surfaces within the IMGOs and on the hands of the investigators. Surface levels ranged from <0.1 μg /100 cm(2) to 2000 μg /100 cm(2) with a geometric mean of 0.37 μg /100 cm(2). THC levels on the hands of officers ranged from <0.10 μg /wipe to 2900 μg /wipe with a geometric mean of 15 μg /wipe. These levels were not considered to be elevated to the point of causing a toxic exposure to responders. A total of 407 fungal spore samples were taken using both slit impactor plates and 400-hole impactors. Both methods identified elevated fungal spore levels, especially during the removal of plants from some of the IMGOs. After plant removal, spore counts increased to levels above 50,000 spores/m(3) with one sample over 500,000 spores/m(3). In addition, we found that there was a shift in species between indoor and outdoor samples with Cladosporium sp. the predominant outdoor species and Penicillium sp. the predominant indoor species. We concluded that the potential increase in fungal spore concentrations associated with the investigation and especially removal of the marijuana plants could potentially expose responders to levels of exposure consistent with those associated with mold remediation processes and that respiratory protection is advisable.

PMID:
24116667
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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