Health & Wellness

Lead in CBD—What to Look Out For

By Melena Gurganus
Luis Tosta

More recently CBD brands have been making headlines as some of their products return shocking results following lab testing. As the “buyer beware” CBD market continues to grow, more light is being shed on the pitfalls of this unregulated industry. Products may be drastically mislabeled for CBD potency, or perhaps contain harmful chemicals like pesticides, herbicides, or heavy metals that exceed the safety barrier. Lead in particular has been a topic of concern when it comes to CBD oil, and understanding the proper testing protocols may help consumers feel more at ease when purchasing CBD.

Where Lead Comes From

While lead can occur naturally within soil, industrial contaminants are responsible for much of the lead found in the environment today. Lead is considered poisonous to humans and can be present in the fruits, meats, and vegetables that we eat, as well as the water that we drink. This is due to the lead levels in soil, which can be absorbed by plants and subsequently ingested by humans, or by the animals that we consume on a daily basis.

Lead rarely naturally occurs in water, but pipes constructed of lead can cause increased levels of the heavy metal within tap water. The Safe Drinking Water Act in 1986 and 1996 helped drastically decrease the occurrence of lead in the majority of water supplies across the U.S.

In response to the persistent presence of lead and its potential negative health effects, organizations like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have taken steps to reduce lead contamination and poisoning, but it can still be found in foods since it is impossible to completely erase the compound from the environment.

Precautions for Lead

Lead has been identified as one of ten chemicals of major public health concern by the World Health Organization, who is currently developing guidelines that will assist people across the globe in the prevention and management of lead poisoning. In addition to this, the FDA has also reduced the allowable levels of lead in several products, like tableware, bottled water, and food storage containers. For children, there is a heightened possibility that lead exposure may cause adverse side effects, so the FDA has also set specific lead level requirements for substances that children are increasingly likely to consume, like candy and juice.

It’s important to note that lead can be a harmful heavy metal in large sums. The effects of ingesting trace amounts of this compound are less clear.

Lead can enter our bodies through many different mechanisms that we are often unaware of, but we do have some control over the amount we are exposed to.

Lead in CBD Oil

Just as lead can be found in crops and the animals we eat, lead can also be present in the extracts of hemp plants. For this reason, accurate and accredited third-party lab tests or certificates of analysis are necessary to verify the general safety profile of a CBD product derived from hemp.

ProVerde Labs, for example, is a trusted third-party laboratory that uses the newest generation of testing equipment and methodologies to provide analytical and consulting services for hemp and CBD products. They test for lead and other heavy metals against limits established by the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. These Permitted Daily Exposure (PDE) numbers are derived from recommended Provisional Tolerable Weekly Intake (PTWI) for heavy metals like lead, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium.

To hold brands more accountable, Remedy Review has sent ProVerde several CBD products to determine if they pass or fail this laboratory’s strict quality control standards. These products have been tested for lead levels that align with the USP’s (United States Pharmacopeia) guidelines for elemental contaminants in dietary supplements.

What to Look Out For

Buy properly tested CBD products to avoid health issues related to lead concentration or the presence of other heavy metals. We recommend looking for certificates of analysis (COAs) that show the product has been tested for heavy metals like lead, and do not contain a harmful amount. In reference to the use of CBD oil on children, the upper limit of lead allowed in CBD products exceeds many of the lead ppb (parts per billion) concentration limits recommended by the FDA. This reinforces the notion that these products are meant for individuals who are 18 years or older unless instructed otherwise by a medical physician.

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