SMOKE IS STILL SMOKE
Indoor Air Pollution From Marijuana Emissions As Bad As The Worst Wildfires
In a year that experienced the nation’s worst wildfires in recent history, it is significant that the latest research on marijuana vaping and dabbing shows indoor particulate concentrations equivalent to dangerous air pollution events.
In a recent study (which will be published this fall), researchers studied marijuana particle concentrations at an event in a dispensary where vaporizing and dabbing were the primary sources of indoor air pollution. They saw Particulate Matter (PM) levels that ranged from 250 to 600 ug/m3 and emissions from dabbing and other forms of vaping marijuana that were near constant for six hours. Their take-home was that particle concentrations from dabbing and vaporizing cannabis can create levels of indoor air pollution similar to those seen in extreme air pollution events like wildfires and severe industrial pollution. Exposure at these concentrations can cause cardiovascular and respiratory disease.
RESULTS Unlike a burning cigarette, dabbing equipment and vaporizers do not emit aerosol constantly. Emissions are episodic and depend on the device design and the intensity of use. A dabbing rig consists of a heated surface, and a trap or cover that captures the aerosol so it can be inhaled. Dabbing-associated aerosol emissions occurred in three phases:
1. When the concentrates were applied to the heated surface, before the aerosol trap was put over the surface
2. When the customer exhaled
3. When the trap was removed and the remaining concentrate was “burned off.”
The Volcano vaporizer used a fan below the heating plate to blow cannabis aerosol into a plastic bag that was then removed from the vaporizer and held or given to a customer to inhale. Several bags would be filled from a single load of cannabis and then held for use by customers. Vaporizer-associated aerosol emissions occurred in four phases:
1. When the bag was removed from the vaporizer
2. When the customer exhaled
3. When the unused aerosol was pressed out of the bag so it could be refilled for a new customer
4. When the spent cannabis flowers were removed from the vaporizer.
Because the aerosol emissions were not constant, we found we had to increase the observation time for a given area from 1 to 5 minutes to properly count emission activities. We were not able to observe correlations between the emission phases described above and the continuous particle concentrations observed because there were multiple sources in both rooms.
CONCLUSIONS Although there is reason to believe that vaporizing and dabbing cannabis may create aerosols that contain lower concentrations of toxins than are found in cannabis smoke, these activities can still create high concentrations of PM2.5 indoors. Chemical analysis of these aerosols will allow an accurate assessment of the health risks of these behaviors.
Original Article: ANRF: https://no-smoke.org/indoor-air-pollution-from-marijuana
The TLJ Team