Hydrogen Cyanide in Cannabis? No, it’s Eagle 20 (Myclobutanil Fungicide)

bottle of eagle 20 fungicide myclobutanil

Cannabis cultivation is in its infancy across the U.S., but states like Colorado and Arizona have have been refining the growth process in massive cannabis farms for years. Like any large scale farming operation, cannabis cultivators often spray the plant with pesticides, such as Eagle 20 to keep bacteria, molds, insects and other pests away from their harvests. In fact, if one single harvest is destroyed by contaminants, growers can lose thousands of dollars in wasted time and resources. 

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Myclobutanil to Hydrogen Cyanide

Due to the lack of federal oversight on cannabis cultivation and the recent string of vaping related illnesses and deaths, some consumers and officials are expressing concern about the effect of pesticides–specifically those heated in vaping products. One fungicide in particular, myclobutanil, has jumped to the forefront of cannabis research. When myclobutanil is heated, it becomes hydrogen cyanide, a toxic compound that can be incredibly dangerous when inhaled. So what do we know about myclobutanil in cannabis and how can we ensure that your product is safe?

Myclobutanil in regulated vs unregulated products

Cannabis testing company CannaSafe recently conducted a study of 10 unregulated and previously untested vaping cartridges. The study found that 100% of the illegal vapes tested positive for pesticides and 10 samples contained myclobutanil. Myclobutanil is an active ingredient in pesticides, such as the popular pesticide Eagle 20. It is used on several common agricultural products. 

Eagle 20 in common crops

Myclobutanil is not federally regulated in cannabis, but it is regulated in legal agricultural products, like certain fruits and vegetables. That means we know a bit about how it works and can apply some of that knowledge to the cannabis testing industry. Myclobutanil is a systemic funigicide, meaning it is absorbed from the site of application and distributed throughout the plant. It cannot be washed off like other pesticides. But residue in the plant will diminish over a few weeks, making it generally safe for oral consumption in common crops. The final residual levels however, can vary considerably depending on the rate of application and the last time the plant was sprayed before harvest.  

Eagle 20 in cannabis

Due to cannabis’s illegal status, we know very little about the health effects of inhaling myclobutanil directly into the lungs via a marijuana vaping product. Additionally, we need more research to understand the effects of ingesting myclobutanil via edibles because the high heat used to produce these products can also alter the chemical content. 

Eagle 20 in tobacco

While there’s no federal precedent set for marijuana yet, we can still look at tobacco for guidance. Currently, the EPA does not allow for pesticide Eagle 20 to be used on tobacco, but China does. In 2012 China released a study that demonstrated 10% or more of active pesticide remains on tobacco leaves up 21 days after treatment. Using tobacco as a model, this could mean that cannabis may also contain myclobutanil up to several weeks after application. We also know that myclobutanil turns to hydrogen cyanide when it’s heated beyond 401°F. More often than not, people smoking or vaping cannabis products reach or exceed that threshold. 

The health consequences

Small doses of hydrogen cyanide are not fatal, but prolonged exposure is linked to various cardiovascular, respiratory and neurological illnesses. As the nation waits for federal guidance to help ensure human health, several states created their own lists of chemicals that present risks when inhaled. In the meantime, it’s important for all cannabis companies to test their plants and final products with ISO17025 accredited labs like ACS.  

What you can do

At ACS we understand that consumers and cannabis companies can’t afford to wait for the federal government to play catch up. We want to ensure that products are safe, so we’ve taken preemptive steps to test for various chemicals, including myclobutanil. We work with companies like yours who believe in testing to guarantee the safety of their product for consumer use.

In the same CannaSafe study mentioned earlier, all THC cartridges that were purchased from regulated dispensaries were clean. These products did not contain heavy metals, pesticides or other solvents, like Vitamin E Acetate

At ACS, we provide a Certificate of Analysis (COA) to guarantee that products are safe by listing potency and ingredient information. We currently test for 56 different pesticides, including myclobutanil. Contact us today if you have any questions or would like to test the safety of your product. 

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