Contaminant Testing

Contaminant Testing


Heavy Metals Testing: 

The ICP-MS is used for state mandated heavy metals testing to include:

  • Class I

  • Lead (Pb), Mercury (Hg), Arsenic (As), Cadmium (Cd)

We have the ability to test for other heavy metals including:

  • Class IIA

  • Cobalt (Co), Vanadium (V), Nickel (Ni)

  • Class III

  • Antimony (Sb), Barium (Ba), Chromium (Cr), Copper (Cu), Tin (Sn), Molybdenum (Mo), Lithium (Li)

A more exhaustive approach can be taken for water/nutrient/media testing where it will be imperative to test for such elements.

The cannabis plant has a high affinity for heavy metals and will pull them out of the soil (plant medium if not grown in soil) and concentrate them in the flowers of the plant. This is a concern for medical patients as heavy metals are poisonous. NCTL can test for the presence of heavy metals down to the parts per trillion level.

Microbial & Mycotoxin Contamination Testing:

Microbes are all around us in the environment and it is no surprise that they are naturally found on cannabis. Certain bacteria have no reason to be there and can make people very ill. Microbe testing for cannabis is very much the same as in food testing. We test for the presence of E. coli and Salmonella as well as a fungus called Aspergillus. If the presence of any one of the three is detected the lot will fail testing.

Microbial work utilizes different techniques to ensure the most reliable results. Samples are plated and cultured for total CFU determination. Mycotoxin testing is performed on the LC-MS/MS validated against the ELISA method of screening.  We have the ability to do additional microbial testing to check for the existence of:

  • A. flavus

  • A. fumigatus

  • A. niger

  • A. terreus

  • Aerobic Count

  • Coliform

  • Enterobacteriaceae

  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa

  • Staphylococcus aureus

  • Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC)

  • Yeast & Mold

Residual Solvent Testing:

Residual solvent would test for the presence of leftover chemicals used in the concentration and purification of different products.

Performed with the use of the headspace GC-MS.

Pesticide testing:

Pesticides, under most state laws, are allowed to be administered to cannabis up to a certain point in its flowering cycle. At NCTL we test for the presence of these potentially harmful chemicals in flower and concentrated products.

Checked against the CRM library we are able to test for the presence of approximately 200 different compounds. Both LC-MS and GC-MS will be utilized when necessary to test for these compounds based on their unique chemistry.

Visual Inspection:

Visual inspection starts at your facility where our samplers will first inspect the cannabis prior to sampling for obvious signs of contamination or large variations in quality or appearance. Once back in the lab, the material is inspected under a high-powered microscope to check for mold or bugs. All samples have their picture taken under magnification for quality assurance reasons and retained as a record along with all results.

Material are visually inspected with the help of a stereomicroscope outfitted with a digital camera. Pictures are taken of all samples and kept as records. The visual inspection checks for mold, filth, pests and other adulterants/contaminants. Pictures are supplied as evidence for tests failing visual inspection.

Air Quality:

Contamination caused by airborne microbes and/or bacteria can be detrimental to a plants health.  Testing the air quality can help identify plant stresses and also warn a cultivator of possible contamination that could cause dried cannabis flower and/or cannabis plant processed extracts/products to fail state required testing.