True North Labs - News

The Dangers of Vaping THC-O: Insights from a Recent Medical Toxicology Report

Reports of pulmonary toxicity raise concerns over the use of synthetic cannabinoids THC-O and HHC-O in vape liquids.
February 23, 2023
April 24, 2024
Industry News

The Dangers of Vaping THC-O: Insights from a Recent Medical Toxicology Report

We have been bombarded with questions about THC-O and HHC-O, and we wanted to share some information about a paper we came across and some potentially hazardous effects when these products are vaped.  

Understanding THC-O and HHC-O: Potential Hazards and Safety Precautions

it's important to note that THC-O and HHC-O are chemically synthesized cannabinoids, and their effects on the body may differ from those of natural cannabis. In addition, since these compounds are relatively new, there needs to be more research on their safety and potential side effects. It's always important to exercise caution when trying new substances and follow applicable laws and regulations regarding their use.

The Journal of Medical Toxicology recently released a paper titled Vaping THC‑O Acetate: Potential for Another EVALI Epidemic.  Neal L. Benowitz et al

If you have difficulty accessing the paper, don't hesitate to contact us.

In the paper, the author's brief report warns of the presence of Δ8-THC-O acetate in commercially available vaping products and the potential risk of pulmonary toxicity.  From vaping THC-O. The report cites mass spectrometry evidence and activation energy calculations  , indicating that vaping THC-O is likely to generate Ketene, a highly potent lung toxicant, similar to what is seen with vitamin E acetate (VEA).

When they are heated, the acetate falls off (THC-O + heat = THC + Keteneiii). They form Ketene when vaped, which is believed to be the lung toxin that causes the lung injuries associated with vitamin E / EVALI.

Vaping THC-O and HHC-O: Limited Research, High Risks?

The report warns about the confirmed presence of THC-O in commercially available vaping products and the potential risk of pulmonary toxicity. The report also highlights that products recognized as safe for oral administration may produce toxic substances when vaped.

Vaping liquids have better physical properties than their precursorsiv, but they can also produce highly toxic substances when heated. Mass spectrometry and DFT calculations can predict potential dangers before further experimentation.

This paper offers a solid rationale on why these products are safe to ingest but should not be vaped.

Chemistry Matters when working with Cannabinoids: Working with Chemists to Identify and Mitigate Risks

One of the benefits of working at TNL is we have a chemist in our formulation team. Chemists have specialized knowledge and training in the chemical properties, behaviours, and interactions of different compounds and working with them can be beneficial to understand the potential dangers associated with chemicals or substances.  

If you have any questions or would like to schedule a call, don't hesitate to contact your Sales Rep to book a call. Also, if you would like a copy of the journal article, contact any team member, and we will gladly provide a copy.

Also if you are you wondering whether or not vaping is right for you? check out a previous article where we explore this topic.


i Pulmonary toxicity refers to damage or harm to the lungs, which can result in a range of respiratory problems, such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest pain. Various factors, including exposure to toxic chemicals, radiation, drugs, and infectious agents, can cause pulmonary toxicity. The severity of pulmonary toxicity can vary depending on the duration and level of exposure and the individual's susceptibility and health status. In the context of the report mentioned earlier, pulmonary toxicity refers to the potential harm that can be caused to the lungs by vaping THC-O, which may generate Ketene, a highly potent lung toxicant.

ii Activation energy calculations are a way of measuring the energy required to initiate a chemical reaction. This is an essential concept in understanding the process of chemical reactions and is a critical factor in determining whether a reaction will occur or not.

iii Ketene (systematic name ethenone) is a colourless, toxic gas with a "penetrating" odour, according to the Merck Index. It is soluble in essentially all organic solvents.

iv means that the liquid form of a substance that is used in vaping devices has improved properties compared to the original substance from which it was derived. This may include factors such as the liquid being easier to inhale, having a more pleasant taste or aroma, producing a smoother vapour, or being more stable at high temperatures. These improved properties make the liquid better suited for use in vaping devices. study-warns/?sh=25aa5c32357b

Swiss govt bans HHC

Updated list

THC-O, HHC are not widely available on the market, as it is still a relatively new compound and is not yet widely studied. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional before using THC-O, or HHC especially if you are taking any medications or have a pre-existing medical condition. When formulating with THC-O or HHC, it is important to consider factors such as the desired potency, the intended use, and any restrictions or regulations that may apply. The process of formulating with THC-O and HHC can be complex and also illegal in various jurisdictions.
We are making no recommendations on usage. Our goal is to provide educational information that empowers consumers to make informed decisions. We don't not sell THC-O, HHC-O, or HHC or make any products with either synthetic or any controlled substance.