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ACS Omega. 2019 Sep 16;4(14):16111-16120. doi: 10.1021/acsomega.9b02301. eCollection 2019 Oct 1.

Aerosol Gas-Phase Components from Cannabis E-Cigarettes and Dabbing: Mechanistic Insight and Quantitative Risk Analysis.

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Department of Chemistry and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon 97207-0751, United States.


Consumption of cannabis by nontraditional methods has surged since the advent of legalization in North America and worldwide. Inhaling cannabis extracts using vaporizers and via dabbing has risen in popularity, while concerns over product safety have not hindered their proliferation. The work herein is the first step toward assessing the safety of vaporizing and dabbing 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. To 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. Overall, gas-phase aerosol products had significantly lower values in dabbing and vaporizing compared to cannabis smoking, although these results should be interpreted in light of potential variations in degradant levels due to disparate usage patterns and the dangers of the higher aerosol concentration of THC.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare the following competing financial interest(s): All authors except Jiries Meehan-Atrash report no competing financial interests. Jiries Meehan-Atrash reports receiving personal fees from Farm House Tomatoes, a company that has submitted a letter of intent to become a Florida medical marijuana treatment center, but has not yet submitted that application at the time of publishing.

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