Kids, CBD and the Unknown Risks of Residual Chemicals

What’s in Your Child’s CBD?

Because of its relatively new status on the market, it’s very difficult to know with certainty what could be in a CBD product.

CBD can be used in a number of products including edibles, coffee, tinctures, topical creams and more – many of which could be beneficial for adults and kids alike.

While there are a number of reputable brands interested in providing honesty and healthy products for their customers, just as many are focused solely on profit and will disregard consumer safety all around.

While giving your kids CBD is generally considered to be safe, the thought giving your child a potentially dangerous product is disconcerting at the very least.

So, how do you know you have a safe product for your kids?

When it comes to these products, there is something that customers likely don’t consider as much as they should: how their CBD was extracted.

In the cannabis extraction industry, there are several methods in which extraction is accomplished – the two commonly used methods are in the form of ethanol and supercritical CO2.

However, one of those methods may lead to a CBD product that contains residual chemicals that could be dangerous if consumed.

Ethanol Extraction

“Parents should understand that CBD that has been extracted with ethanol has a risk that it will contain a ‘safe’ level of chemical contaminants such as heptane, hexane, isopropyl alcohol, methanol, and or acetone,” says biochemist and extraktLAB CEO, Dr. Jon Thompson.

“These chemicals are often added into pure ethanol as a ‘denaturant’ to lower the cost of ethanol solvents compared to food grade ethanol.”

The issue with using denatured ethanol for cbd extraction is that trace amounts of the denaturants are left in the CBD after the ethanol has been removed.

“In our study of over 50 samples from 50 ethanol extractors, 20% showed the presence of one or more of these contaminants in the oil, even though they are in the oil at a ‘safe’ level,” says Thompson. “We even found more toxic class 2 solvents in 5% of the samples.”

“FDA has put limits on the amount of solvents that a drug can have in it.  However, those allowed levels of chemical residuals that are ‘Generally Regarded as Safe’ are very high. Up to 0.5% or 5000 ppm of class 3 solvents are allowed by the FDA as ‘safe’.

“The evidence for the safety of such levels is very thin,” says Dr. Thompson.“For example, heptane, a common chemical contaminant found in ethanol derived CBD extracts, established the maximum level of heptane based on a single study on neurotoxicity for rats published in 1981.”

“The FDA arrived at the limits in collaboration with four different manufacturers associations,” Thompson continues.

“However, as NIOSH points out in their monograph on heptane that no definitive carcinogenicity studies have been completed and ‘[Long-term] Effects may include reduced memory and concentration, personality changes (withdrawal, irritability), fatigue, sleep disturbances, reduced coordination, and/or effects on nerves supplying internal organs (autonomic nerves) and/or nerves to the arms and legs (weakness, ‘pins and needles’).”

“Safe” Levels of Chemicals May Not be So Safe

“If a child took the maximum ‘safe’ dose of chemical contaminant every day in their CBD, it could equate to drinking a cumulative amount of 0.5-1 L of heptane contaminant every year,” Thompson says.

“The ridiculous thing about a ‘safe level of residuals’ is that there is no total limit either. So, that child could imbibe many litres over time based on the number of contaminants. This is why we recommend that customers read the label and choose CO2 derived oils which do not carry these risks as they are entirely avoidable.”

“One leading ethanol extraction company of CBD even bragged that they have “less residuals” than their competitors. How is it acceptable to the consumer that there are any residuals?” Asks Thompson.

So, is it likely that a child will grow seriously ill after taking the first dose of an ethanol extracted CBD product?

The short answer is, no; however, these products are often intended for regular consumption.

If extracted properly, CBD products can be safely consumed by children, young adults and even during pregnancy.

But, If these residual denaturants are consumed every day by a child, or pregnant mother, the overall amount they consume is unnerving.

Why CO2 is the Safer Alternative

If a parent is concerned about the particular method by which a company produces their CBD product, looking for companies that use supercritical CO2 is the safest option.

CO2 is a naturally organic solvent that is manipulated using temperature and pressure to reach a supercritical state to perform CBD extraction.

This extraction method has no residual chemical contaminants in the final product and is also a green alternative to other extraction methods.

How to Ensure a Safe CBD Product

To reiterate, there is no doubt that the cleanest and safest CBD goods are extracted with CO2 as opposed to denatured ethanol.

This process of extraction is completely free from any residual compounds, and enables a particularly pure and safe product.

So, if a parent is concerned about their children consuming CBD products, here are some recommendations to find peace of mind in their products:

  • Consult with your physician: CBD has lots of evidence to indicate that there are numerous health benefits and may help with several ailments in children and adults. However, it is absolutely essential to consult with your child’s physician to be certain that CBD is safe for your son or daughter to consume.
  • Read the tag: Always make sure a CBD product isn’t only organic and pesticide free, but also expressly indicates that it was produced using extraction with supercritical CO2
  • Talk to the pros: Transparency is key when it comes to healthy CBD products. After determining a company is using a healthy extraction method, reach out to that company with comments, questions and concerns. A company that cares about the health and safety of their customers will have nothing to hide, and will do whatever they can to provide any information needed to ensure the safety of your kids when consuming CBD.

* Jon Thompson, PhD, is a separations scientist and CEO of extraktLAB, an accredited engineering company for the CBD, hemp and cannabis industries. 

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