JUL 26, 2022 10:00 AM PDT

Formation of toxic ketene likely caused by vaping cannabinoid acetates

A recent peer-reviewed study conducted at Portland State University and slated to be published in Chemical Research and Toxicology raises awareness into the alleged risks of vaping cannabinoid acetates. This study is intriguing since there is a lack of peer-reviewed information concerning user preferences and vaping topography regarding cannabis products, as the paper states. The study discovered that the toxic gas known as ketene is released when cannabinoid acetates are heated under vaping conditions. Ketene is known to be toxic to humans, was previously examined in a 2019 study involving e-cigarettes, and was also found to be a possible cause of vaping-related illnesses and deaths in the US in February 2020. This toxicity makes ketene too dangerous to study in order to fully understand its impact on the human body, said Robert Strongin, a Professor of Organic Chemistry at Portland State University, and a co-author on the study.

While the study only examined one puff, the results showed that ketene was not only found to exist at lower temperatures than previously thought, but also at known threatening levels to a person’s health. PhD student, Kaelas Munger, said there might be a higher intake for people vaping these products, since they usually vape more than a single puff.

“The thing we're most concerned about is prolonged exposure, we don’t know what that is,” Munger said. “That’s why papers like ours are needed. Otherwise people would be exposed to this really toxic substance and it’s really impossible to look for the evidence.”

Strongin said ketene’s reactivity with biological molecules makes it virtually untraceable in the human body. “That’s why it is so necessary to continue investigating potential sources of human exposure,” he said.

Sources: Chemical Research and Toxicology, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Inverse

As always, keep doing science & keep looking up!

About the Author
MS in Geological Sciences
Laurence Tognetti is a six-year USAF Veteran who earned both a BSc and MSc from the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University. Laurence is extremely passionate about outer space and science communication, and is the author of “Outer Solar System Moons: Your Personal 3D Journey”.
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