CBD products are certainly safer and more accurate today than they were years ago. But a recent study, published in December 2022, suggests that contaminants are still a common problem.
The study examined the contamination of heavy metals and phthalates in 121 commercially available edible cannabidiol (CBD) products, including gummies, tinctures, and capsules.
The researchers found that:
- 42% of the tested products contained lead
- 28% contained arsenic
- 8% contained cadmium
- 37% contained mercury
- Four edible CBD products exceeded the California Proposition 65 threshold for daily lead consumption
- Phthalates were detected in 13-80% of edible products tested
Heavy metals are harmful to humans because they can accumulate in the body over time, leading to various health problems. For example, lead exposure can cause developmental delays and neurological damage, while arsenic can cause skin lesions, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Cadmium can also cause cancer and kidney damage, and mercury can cause neurological damage and impair cognitive function.
Phthalates, on the other hand, are a group of chemicals that are commonly used as plasticizers in consumer products such as food packaging, toys, and cosmetics. They can disrupt the endocrine system and are associated with various health problems, including developmental and reproductive issues.
In addition to heavy metal and phthalate contamination, the study found that there was a substantial discrepancy between the product label claims for CBD potency and the actual amount measured in both edible and topical products. This finding isn’t as surprising as I’ve seen it firsthand when writing independent third-party testing reports over the past five years.
This study is important since it reiterates that third-party testing is critical when shopping for CBD products. You should only buy products that come with publicly available certificate of analysis (CoA) test reports showing both potency and contaminant testing.
You should also check the reports yourself to make sure they match the label and don’t find any contaminants.
- Gardener, Hannah, Chela Wallin, and Jaclyn Bowen. “Heavy metal and phthalate contamination and labeling integrity in a large sample of US commercially available cannabidiol (CBD) products.” Science of the total environment 851 (2022): 158110.
- Jaishankar, Monisha, et al. “Toxicity, mechanism and health effects of some heavy metals.” Interdisciplinary toxicology 7.2 (2014): 60.
- Wang, Yufei, and Haifeng Qian. “Phthalates and their impacts on human health.” Healthcare. Vol. 9. No. 5. MDPI, 2021.
Gleb is a freelance writer from Vancouver, Canada specializing in CBD and cannabis. He’s read thousands of studies on CBD and other supplements, helping him translate complex science into plain language. Gleb has tried and reviewed dozens of CBD brands and products, written third-party testing reports, and knows the CBD industry inside and out. When not writing, he likes to kickbox, travel, and tell everyone how awesome intermittent fasting is.