If you’ve been following the news, you know that vaping has been tied to hundreds of cases of mysterious, sometimes-deadly lung illnesses — and that officials are specifically worried about bootleg and THC products. A new report from NBC News isn’t doing anything to quell those worries. On Friday, the news outlet reported that hydrogen cyanide was found in some black market marijuana vaping cartridges.
NBC commissioned a California cannabis testing facility to look at 18 different vaping cartridges containing THC, the psychoactive chemical found in marijuana. They did testing on products from legal dispensaries and unlicensed dealers. The lab they used, CannaSafe, tested 10 black market cartridges for pesticides, and all 10 came back positive. Specifically, they contained the ingredient myclobutanil, which can turn into hydrogen cyanide when burned, NBC reported.
According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, hydrogen cyanide is a colourless gas. In its gaseous form, cyanide is most dangerous if you’re exposed in an enclosed space where the gas is trapped, but it will evaporate and disperse quickly in open spaces, the CDC explains.
Antonio Frazier, the vice president of operations at CannaSafe, told NBC that this nefarious ingredient could cause “a very toxic effect on the lungs." You certainly don’t want to be smoking cyanide," he said. "I don’t think anyone would buy a cart that was labeled hydrogen cyanide on it."
They also found that 13 out of 15 unregulated samples the lab tested contained Vitamin E. The vaping-related epidemic hasn’t been linked to one product or ingredient, but The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said that Vitamin E acetate is a common thread in illness reports across the U.S.
The lab found that the three legally purchased products they tested came back with no pesticides, Vitamin E, or heavy medals.
This news comes as a at least 13 people’s deaths have been tied to vaping, with one of the latest taking place in the Pacific Northwest, according to The Oregonian.
“We do not know yet what exactly is making people sick,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, emphasized on Friday, according to CNBC. “Because of the variety of chemicals that are present in e-cigarettes or vaping liquids and may be added to e-cigarettes or vaping liquid as well as the diversity of products in circulation, laboratory analysis may be complex, but these are ongoing.”