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Developing methods for the rapid identification of heavy metals and microplastics in CBD oil

Gregory McManus
Florida Gulf Coast University

This project aims to establish rapid and reliable analytical techniques to determine heavy metal and microplastic impurities in CBD oil. Cannabis has shown great promise for the treatment of many medical conditions. Resulting from this, the therapeutic application of cannabis and its constituent phytocannabinoids (i.e. THC and CBD), continues to garner significant clinical and public attention. There are, however, substantial uncertainties surrounding the nature and content of contaminants in cannabis plants. An in-depth understanding of plant contaminants and toxin effects on the stability of plant compounds and the effect on human health is necessary. Cannabis presents a complex system, there are many challenges associated with understanding the contaminants present and much uncertainty exists regarding the quality, safety, and legal status of the CBD oils. In this work, our aims were to: 1) develop a methodology to rapidly quantify the heavy metal contaminants in commercially available samples of CBD oil via Wavelength Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence (WDXRF); and 2) identify microplastic polymer contaminants in CBD oil using coupled Thermal Gravimetric Analysis – Differential Scanning Calorimetry (TGA–DSC). Our goal is to develop reliable, rapid, efficient, inexpensive analytical methodologies for the determination of key contaminants within the cannabis plant and to accelerate research in this promising industry to ensure consumer/patient safety.

Co-authors: Arsalan Mirjafari1
1Florida Gulf Coast University

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