Contaminated vapes: Concerns highlight THC detection need

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children contaminated vapes concernschildren contaminated vapes concerns

There have been worrying news reports and alerts circulated by schools recently which have highlighted issues with contaminated vapes. These are sold as THC (the chemical component of cannabis) vapes but actually contain strong synthetic cannabinoids known as ‘spice’.

Dangers of spice in vapes explained

The charity Cranstoun, which supports people with drug problems, warned that spice can be highly dangerous. Its alert issued last month stated the effects from synthetic cannabinoids are very different from THC and cannabis and they can take hold very quickly. Additionally, even if you tolerated one version of spice you would not tolerate a different type and this could lead to an overdose.

It is illegal to sell THC vapes in the UK. In countries where they are legal Cranstoun said they cost considerably more than nicotine vapes. The charity added, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

“Whatever you are told about it containing weed or THC, it is unlikely that it does, and the effect will not be what you expected.”

The advice from the charity to young people is not to vape at all. However, for those tempted to vape when they are told it contains THC is to breathe normally and not inhale deeply. They also advise people never to share vapes, or to use them alone or in confined spaces. If anyone they know has vaped and are then unwell, they should call for help or for an ambulance.

Warnings about illicit vapes after young people hospitalised

There have been confirmed cases in London of confiscated vapes sold as THC vapes, which were actually laced with spice. Contaminated vapes, laced with ‘spice’ led to five young people in Greenwich being hospitalised in January, according to a message from Ealing Public Health which was shared on the London Borough council’s communication platform for its schools.

There were already concerns about children using THC vapes, after students at a school in Burnley were reportedly hospitalised last year. There are also continuing worries about other forms of illegal vapes that could be damaging for young people. Middlesbrough, Brighton & Hove City Council and Hampshire County Council are among the local authorities issuing warnings about illicit and contaminated vapes over the past year after seizures by their local Police and Trading Standards staff.

How can THC be detected?

Schools are generally in the frontline of dealing with young people who are vaping wherever e-cigarettes have been obtained. Being able to detect vaping quickly and effectively can help schools understand the scale of the problem they have so that they can then have conversations with children about the health risks.

We are helping schools, such as Baxter College in Kidderminster and St Josephs College in Stoke-on-Trent, to detect and tackle vaping by supplying HALO Smart Sensors, which have been installed in their school toilets. The HALO Smart Sensor, manufactured in the US by IPVideo Corporation which was acquired by Motorola Solutions last year, uses a dynamic vape detection algorithm to learn about the environment and alert when vaping is detected.

The HALO has up to 16 sensors to perform multiple detections, and the hundreds of combinations it detects expands its capabilities to be able to differentiate between substances as well. If there are concerns that children may be using vapes that are laced with THC, then this will give you peace of mind. This is because it can detect high levels of ammonia within the air which would indicate that cannabis is being vaped or smoked.

The HALO is the only vape detector on the market that can alert and differentiate between vaping, vaping with THC and intentionally masking vaping behaviour, for example, by using aerosols to cover up vaping.

As there are potentially even greater harms out there from vapes laced with spice, being able to talk to young people, and educate them about all the risks of vaping, could prevent more serious health problems and hospitalisation.

If you want to know more about the HALO Smart Sensor and how it could help in your school or college please get in touch.