A new study from Portland State University revealed that vaporizing hash oil, or a practice commonly known as “Dabbing”, can produce high levels of potentially cancer-causing chemicals, including the known carcinogen benzene.

The study, which was cited by in a report by Forbes, was published in the journal ACS Omega. It showed that the vapor produced by cannabis extract does not only produce extremely high levels of cannabinoids but may also deliver a significant amount of toxins into the body.

Vaporizing cannabis extract may deliver significant amount of cancer-causing toxins

For the study, PSU researchers led by Professor Rob Strongin analyzed the chemical profiles of the so-called terpenes, which is the fragrant oil in marijuana and other flowers. The researchers conducted the toxicology analysis by vaporizing the extract just the way users typically vaporize oil.

The PSU team found that vapors from dabbing contain high levels of benzene, as well as methacrolein. Benzene, as defined by the American Cancer Society, is a colorless, flammable liquid with a sweet odor. It can be formed naturally through volcanic eruptions or forest fires.

Included in the top 10 most commonly used chemicals in the United States, benzene is mainly utilized as a starting material in making other chemicals, including plastics, rubbers, lubricants, detergents, dyes, pesticides, and drugs.

Long-term exposure to benzene is associated with increased risk of leukemia and other blood cancers.

Just like benzene, methacrolein is a clear, colorless, flammable liquid. It is commonly used in the manufacture of polymers and synthetic resins. Exposure to high levels of methacrolein can cause irritation in the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs.

Dabbing should be considered a physical and chemical health risk

Dabbing is a universal practice in which a small amount of cannabis extract, or also known as “dab”, is placed on a heated surface in order to produce a vapor that can be inhaled by the user. It is widely known that vaporizing hash oil can produce extremely high levels of cannabinoids, which is the active ingredient in marijuana.

Cannabis extracts can be made by either processing marijuana leaves or flowers with a propellant, like butane, or blasting the flower with carbon dioxide. Both methods can be perfectly safe. However, amateurs who extract hash oil in their basements without using vacuum oven to collect and recycle butane can be catastrophic. Butane is a highly flammable and potentially explosive gas. If not properly collected, it could mix with the air and can potentially lead to a deadly blast.