Heavy Metal Analysis

Heavy Metal
Analysis

Heavy metals analysis in cannabis and hemp products is necessary to ensure product quality and safety. Trace elements, arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and lead must be analyzed because the cannabis plant is known to accumulate heavy metals from the soil.

What is a Heavy Metal?

Heavy metals are toxic elements in nature being found in all environmental compartments and have a variety of application in human activities. They are not chemically or biologically degradable. Once exposed into the human environment, due to industrial activities, they can remain for hundreds of years, polluting the soil and accumulating in plants including cannabis and hemp and organic tissues. Moreover, their concentration in living beings increases as they move up the food chains.

 
In humans, this type of test is most often ordered when a patient shows symptoms of heavy metal poisoning or has been exposed to heavy metals. Because of the toxic nature of these substances, inhalation or ingestion of heavy metals can cause severe illness. Those illnesses can include neurotoxicity, which is highly harmful to humans.

 
Unfortunately, the cannabis and hemp plants will accumulate metals and other elements from the air, soil, water, pesticides, and fertilizers in their cultivation environment. Many people falsely believe that if their cannabis is grown indoors, it’s safe from these contaminants. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Furthermore, heavy metals can also be introduced during the manufacturing process and can hide in surprising places such as in the hardware or final packaging of the product.

What are the Sources of Heavy
Metals in Cannabis Products?

There are three primary stages when cannabis can be contaminated with heavy metals. These stages include during the growth cycle, processing, or post-processing. This is why it is so important to know what stages your cannabis products go through before considering use.

 
Cannabis acts efficiently to uptake heavy metals from the soil, and farmers often use hemp to detoxify soil for future crops. This process is known as soil remediation. While this can be productive for farmers, this can be problematic for producers and ultimately consumers.

Another potential source of contamination is soil treatments and fertilizers. Even though initial applications of these products might fall below acceptable limits in batch tests, it’s common for producers to repeat the applications, leading to an accumulation of heavy metals until they are above the safety limit for consumers.

 
Additionally, the equipment is used during processing can transfer contaminants to the product if consumers are not cautious. As a result, it’s prevalent for products to be contaminated during processing.

Heavy Metals We Analyze

Cadmium

Cadmium is present in the earth’s crust and is absorbed by organic material that forms soil. Cadmium deposits, absorbed by the soil’s organic material, passes into plants and becomes part of human or animal diets in the form of hazardous heavy metals.

Arsenic

Arsenic is the most common cause of acute heavy metal poisoning in adults. Arsenic is actually a metalloid, which means that it has both metallic and non-metallic properties.

Lead

Lead is harmful to your health. Lead enters the body through vegetables, meat, fruits, seafood, and wine (among many other foods contaminated with heavy metals).

Mercury

Mercury is considered to be a highly toxic heavy metal. It is found naturally in metallic form (as mercury), or in the form of mercury salts. Mercury is highly volatile; the most dangerous form of exposure is inhaled mercury, since it enters our body, accumulates, and remains for a long time.

Can Heavy Metals in Cannabis Pose
a Health Risk?

Yes. Heavy metals in cannabis can represent significant health risks for users. Research has shown that bioaccumulation of heavy metals can be extremely dangerous in humans. In addition, cannabis plants can absorb and store environmental contaminants like heavy metals in their stem, stalks, flower, and leaves, and it poses a health risk to cannabis consumers.

Because some heavy metals are more dangerous than others, the U.S. FDA highly regulates these heavy metals, posing toxicological risks to patients without providing any therapeutic benefit. Specifically, Mercury, Cadmium, Lead, and arsenic are incredibly toxic even in small amounts.

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