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Targeted and non-targeted analysis of cannabis-containing e-juice using nominal and accurate mass LC-MS/MS

Matthew Standland with Sciex


The vaping crisis of 2019 and 2020, which involved nicotine and cannabis-based e-juice cartridges, contributed to 68 deaths and greater than 2,800 hospitalizations. Laboratory findings showed a correlation between hospitalized patients and the presence of vitamin e acetate (VEA) in their e-juice. As a result, many states have banned VEA from e-juice formulations and require testing to support this ban.

VEA is listed as a generally recognized as safe (GRAS) chemical in food commodities. The GRAS list does not consider high-temperature vaporization as a route of ingestion, nor does it explicitly consider the exposure of bronchiolar tissues to such food additives. There is a growing concern that other GRAS additives in e-juice formulations warrant further study. Other concerns for e-juice additives include flavoring components, thickening agents, emulsifiers, medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), natural products such as phytol, and agricultural residues.


In this work we provide methodology for accurate and precise quantitative assessment of some potential chemical species in e-juice. These include cannabinoids, pesticides, VEA, and MCT. This is accomplished via an easy-to-use and robust LC-MS/MS method using a Triple Quad™ 4500 LC-MS/MS System coupled to an ExionLC™ AC (XR) System. In addition, we provide methodology to discover unknown contaminants and additives via accurate mass MS/MS library matching through the use of SCIEX X500R QTOF System and SCIEX OS Software.”

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