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Exploring the relationship between cannabis science and nanotechnology

Nanotechnology is used extensively in the food, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical industries, primarily in development and testing through instrumentation and microscopy, along with some advanced production techniques. The nascent medicinal and adult-use cannabis markets have a similar relationship with nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology-based instrumentation for detecting pesticides and toxic elements in cannabis
In 2019, a team of chemists and analytical toxicologists working at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada, discussed what had then become a range of analytical methods for measuring cannabis for contamination. According to the authors, the study, published in the Journal of Environmental Sciences, celebrated the establishment of analytical methods – many of which rely on nanotechnology-based instrumentation – in an area where methodology had previously been dire or nonexistent.

They compared the effectiveness, cost, duration, and effort required for inspection methods based on nanotechnology, including atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS), atomic emission spectroscopy with inductively coupled plasma (ICP-AES), and ICP with mass spectrometry (ICP-MS).

The researchers demonstrated that while AAS is cheaper, its slow sample throughput and low sensitivity compared to ICP-AES led to a preference for the latter. However, ICP-MS was the superior method for testing, with the highest throughput and sensitivity. Researchers noted that its use has increased in the cannabis industry, with techniques from other sectors easily adaptable for cannabis testing.

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