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Pesticides and Contaminants

Discussion in 'The Grow Room' started by momofthegoons, Jan 21, 2018.

  1. momofthegoons

    momofthegoons Nurse Ratched Staff Member

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    I posted an article regarding Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome recently that suggested that pesticides used in the growing of our cannabis could potentially be the cause of CHS. Pesticides, specifically NEEM, are often used to combat spider mites during growing. Considered 'organic' this product was made for fruits and vegetables and is considered 'safe' for consumption. But no testing has been done regarding inhalation of this product. More on pesticide use in our product....

    Ignorance in bloom: Cannabis cultivation and the casual use of illegal poison
    Two-spotted spider mites are the arch enemy of cannabis growers everywhere. Cannabis growers are not generally a hateful bunch, but that changes when these minuscule pests come up in conversation.

    Pests will harm your plants, effecting your yield and quality. If left unchecked, many can lower the quality of the final product beyond the point of use. Spider mites are one of the few common pests that can result in complete crop failure.

    Spider mites are all over the place. They are common pests on a surprisingly wide range of plants, including tomatoes, squash, blackberries, strawberries, hollies, roses, azaleas, and chrysanthemums.

    As a result, they are carried into grow rooms on clothing, pets, and supplies. They also tend to find their way in to indoor gardens and greenhouses from outside when the weather cools in the fall.

    One big reason that growers despise these tiny plant killers is the fact that they are very resilient. It requires multiple treatments to get rid of them once you have them, and they become resistant to pesticides quickly.

    These are not the only pests that a grower has to contend with either. Powdery mildew, root aphids, thrips, russet mites, and broad mites can all target cannabis. The path that is chosen in finding a long-term pest control solution depends on the grower’s philosophical views on how to garden.

    It can be handled in two ways. One is to use a variety of preventative measures, and treatment only when absolutely necessary, which is known in horticulture as integrated pest management, or IPM.

    The other, which is much more common among large illicit commercial producers, is to use more poisonous pesticides, and more of them, even when it is not evident you have pests.

    Readily Available: Easy Access to Highly Toxic Pesticides
    I was very young when I killed my first cannabis plant.

    I was a teenager, and figured I could just stick a plant in my closet, and I would magically have a big bag of top-notch smoke in a couple of months.

    As you might expect, I was mistaken. After over-watering, then under-watering, then messing up the light cycle, the plant finally got infested with bugs and died.

    Of course, I was dismayed. I did not give up, though, and I kept trying. Eventually I would have a measure of success. Over time, I would also have many run-ins with my old nemesis, the spider mite.

    When I was a bit older, I had graduated to a small four light basement grow, and I got mites again. This time, I had learned to identify them early, so strolled down to my friendly neighbourhood hydroponics store. They had recommended strange-coloured GH three-part feed, so I asked them to recommend something to kill mites.

    Instead of pointing to a product on one of the shelves, the proprietor stepped into the back, and emerged with an un-labelled brown glass eye dropper bottle. He pulled out a sheet of sticker labels, wrote the dilution rate on it, told me that this stuff would kill anything, and asked me for $200.

    At the time, I knew no better, so I paid him, and asked him if there was anything I should know. He said that I should probably wear a mask and gloves. I didn’t bother.

    The product he sold me, while still in my teens, is known as Avid, and it is the most common pesticide used in the commercial cultivation of cannabis. It is made by Syngenta, one of the biggest poison manufacturers in the world, and the active ingredient is abamectin. It has been approved for a bunch of different food crops, despite that fact that human side effects identified in peer reviewed studies include low sperm maturity.

    Avid is very toxic, but it is just one of many options. Meltatox, Floramite, Forbid, Eagle 20, Nova 40, and TetraSan are easily accessible at either brick and mortar shops or online. If you have bought and smoked cannabis, the chances are that you have inhaled the residues of more than one item on this list.

    While some of these are approved for certain food crops, there are not that many smoked crops being farmed. There is tobacco, but it is practically dripping in pesticides, being the sixth most heavily sprayed crop in North America. Studies on the inhalation of smoked pesticides in cannabis are starting to be seen, with the expected result that pesticides can efficiently transfer from bud to lungs through smoke.

    The fact that these highly regulated and restricted toxins are so readily available comes as a surprise to many outside the cannabis community.

    The fact that a segment of the industry feels entitled to poison patients for profit is offensive to many inside the cannabis community.

    Greed and Ignorance: Unethical Disobedience
    “That is what everyone uses. Who cares if it is illegal? This is all illegal.”

    These are words that I have heard many times over the years as I tried to find other solutions for pest control. Sometimes, these same people would later spout off about civil disobedience, and how they were part of the positive change that was coming.

    Those who are truly civilly disobedient do care that it is illegal. Is it unjust to punish people for growing and using a plant? If the answer is yes, then I will intentionally break that law.

    Is it unjust to prohibit growers from making more money at the expense of the consumers’ health?

    Anyone who answers yes to that question, and knowingly acts this way, is not acting civilly.

    There is nothing civil about poison.

    Last edited: Jan 21, 2018
    Squiby and OldOyler like this.
  2. OldOyler

    OldOyler Well-Known Member

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    Boiler Room
    Outdoor growers are kind of in a pickle.

    Inside, clean rooms are the first defense.

    Their natural predator the common house centipede? Most effective spider mite killers I've ever seen.

    Most tents have small openings no matter what you do, and require a dark room or blackout curtain around them anyway. If you have even one centipede in the same ROOM as the tent?

    Spider mite apocalypse.


    BD9, Squiby, Baron23 and 1 other person like this.
  3. Shredder

    Shredder Dogs like me

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    The research on neem assumes neem is sprayed on buds, something a knowledgable grower would not do. Like a lot of organic growers I use it on plants up to flowering. Once flowering starts the neem stops. And neem itself is used in toothpaste, (safe to eat) so the assumption is we are smoking or vaping neem oil.

    I think my best pesticide is my worms. The castings are teaming with life. Lots of shredder type mites and preditor mites. Some you can see by eye and some you can't. Spider mites really don't have a chance around here.

    As long as I'm at it I keep my worm farm in my flower room, and a side benefit is the process of them doing what they do and decomposing organic materials gives off co2. So they give me pest control, fertilizer, and co2. What's not to love, lol.

    I feed the worms mj leaves, and bed them in compost I make outdoors of leaves and garden/table scraps. The mj leaves I pre digest, or ferment in water. So the water becomes a plant extract used as a fertilizer, and the fermented leaves are worm food.
    Baron23, BD9 and momofthegoons like this.
  4. Baron23

    Baron23 Well-Known Member

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    Wow, centipedes...really? Just looked it up and yes, they are voracious hunters. Never knew that. Thanks
    momofthegoons likes this.
  5. momofthegoons

    momofthegoons Nurse Ratched Staff Member

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    I wasn't quite sure where to put this, so I broadened the scope of this thread to include contaminants as well as pesticides. This article sort of opened my eyes to something I hadn't thought of prior; contaminated soil. It probably doesn't effect indoor grown cannabis, but could potentially be a factor in any cannabis grown outdoors.

    How to Test for Heavy Metals in Cannabis

    Cannabis collects heavy metals. It “absorbs heavy metals from the soil, water and air,” says Bob Clifford, general manager at Shimadzu Scientific Instruments. These elements—arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury and others—can trigger a range of health problems, including cancer and heart disease. Although cannabis for human consumption or smoking should be as free from heavy metal contamination as possible, that’s not always the case. When Sammy Hagar wrote “sparks fly in the middle of the night,” little did he know that this line could describe not just heavy-metal music, but the concerns of testing of cannabis for these elements.

    Today’s ‘sparks’ fly around the need and necessary extent of testing cannabis for heavy metals. “Heavy-metal contamination will vary from farm to farm and different strains will have different uptake rates of metals, thus the importance of testing,” Clifford explains.

    Regardless of where cannabis comes from, it can include heavy metals. “All agricultural products, including cannabis, contain some amount of heavy metals,” says GenTech Scientific. “The use of things such as fertilizers and pesticides in agricultural applications increase the abundance of these metals in soils and water.”

    Beyond coming from natural sources and agricultural methods, heavy metals can infiltrate cannabis-based products in other ways. As an example, GenTech Scientific notes: “Contamination can also occur during the processing of cannabis.”

    Despite the wide range of potential sources of heavy metals, it is not inevitable that every cannabis sample includes these elements—at least not at high levels. “With the correct atmosphere, clean soil and water, and limited use of pesticides and fertilizers, you can keep your levels below the acceptable safe limit,” according to GenTech Scientific. Nonetheless, this company adds, “It is important for growers to monitor the levels to ensure their products are in compliance with their state’s regulatory guidelines.” And those can vary considerably.

    Where regulators do require testing cannabis for heavy metals, the list usually includes arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury. “Other states, like Maryland, include additional elements to be tested for such as barium, chromium, selenium and silver,” Clifford says.

    Testing tools

    Cannabis can be tested for heavy metals in many ways, such as various forms of atomic spectrometry, including atomic absorption (AA), inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy (ICP-OES) and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). “For AA, the method used would have to be the more sensitive graphite furnace atomic absorption—GFAA—since the flame AA method would not be sensitive enough for most elements,” Clifford explains. “Also, mercury must be measured by a method called cold vapor atomic absorption spectroscopy—CVAAS—due to poor sensitivity by AA.”

    In general, flame techniques can measure elements at low parts per million, and GFAA goes down to low parts per billion. “Also, the AA method usually measures one element at a time,” Clifford says. “ICP and ICP-MS are techniques capable of measuring multiple elements simultaneously.” Nonetheless, using ICP to test cannabis for heavy metals, often requires a way to enhance its sensitivity, such as introducing the sample with an ultrasonic nebulizer (USN). “The USN can increase sensitivity up to a factor of 10,” Clifford says.

    From Aeos Labs, analytical chemist Anya Engen says, “ICP-MS offers the best sensitivity and is the method used in our lab.” She adds, “The FDA and United States Pharmacopeia have standardized methods for heavy-metals analysis, which are very useful resources in the fledgling cannabis-testing industry, where regulation is slow to catch up.”

    To test for arsenic, scientists often need special sample preparation, such as liquid chromatography (LC), because arsenic can be in inorganic or organic forms. The inorganic form is more toxic. “If one wants to test for the different forms, LC-ICP-MS is utilized to separate and detect the different compounds,” Clifford says. “States currently only require total arsenic, so speciation of this compound is not required.”

    Tomorrow’s testing

    Not all regulators even require heavy-metals testing for cannabis at the moment. “We test for heavy metals in the USA’s food supply system, enforced by FDA and USDA, so why would we not test for other consumed products like cannabis, especially when involving immune-compromised patients?” Clifford asks. “There needs to be federal oversight of testing for heavy metals, as well as pesticides, residual solvents, mycotoxins and other contaminates so testing is harmonized throughout the United States.”

    When asked if any testing improvements would be useful, Engen says, “Measuring heavy-metal levels in the soil and water where cannabis is grown and correlating the data to cannabis-generated data would be helpful in illustrating an overview of possible contamination sources.” She adds, “Being in Hawaii with an active volcano, the heavy metals produced and dispersed by the volcano is a possible source of contamination in Hawaii-grown cannabis.”

    Without testing cannabis for heavy metals, sparks could fly from more than guitars as customers insist increasingly on safe, tested products.
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