JAN 14, 2023 9:16 AM PST

Vaping Acetate Releases Toxic Ketene

WRITTEN BY: Kerry Charron

Portland State University researchers examined the potential risks of vaping cannabinoid acetates, and they found that heated cannabinoid acetates released a toxic gas known as ketene. Researchers studying vitamin E acetate in 2019 discovered ketene in the emissions from a commercial e-cigarette. The outbreak of EVALI (e-cigarette vaping product use associated lung injury) led to roughly 3,000 hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S. as of February 2020, and several research studies pointed to vaping acetate as the causative agent. The PSU research team's study sheds light on vaping's impacts, and they published the findings in Chemical Research In Toxicology

Vitamin E acetate possesses a similar chemical structure to the new cannabinoid acetate products. Acetate is used in vaping formulations to make it easier for compounds to cross the blood-brain barrier, increasing potency and effects. However, vaping also negatively affects the human body, and some key respiratory symptoms include cough and shortness of breath, while gastrointestinal symptoms include vomiting, stomach pain, and diarrhea. Many health professionals and citizens are concerned that products containing unregulated cannabinoid acetates can be purchased over the counter and pose a significant health threat. 

The vaping acetate study showed that ketene formed at lower temperature settings than previously observed. Ketene is untraceable in the human body, because it is highly reactive with biological molecules. The researchers investigated potential ketene formation from delta-8 THC acetate, other cannabinoid acetates, CBN acetate and CBD acetate under vaping conditions. They observed ketene in vaped condensates from all three acetates and a commercial delta-8 THC acetate product purchased online.

Future research on prolonged acetate exposure and ketene’s effects on the human body is critical for health policy reform and for promoting moderate use.

Sources: Chemical Research In Toxicology, Eureka News Alert, Portland State University, USA Today https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaVaoja2Uk4


About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Kerry Charron writes about medical cannabis research. She has experience working in a Florida cultivation center and has participated in advocacy efforts for medical cannabis.
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