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Should Topical Consumers Worry About Contaminants?

Written by Caleb Summeril

In the growing topical cannabidiol (CBD) market, new products and offerings are constantly being developed and made available for consumers. There is a seemingly endless stream of lotions, creams, salves, and rubs out there that are popular for their effectiveness and in high demand.

These new cannabis creations are driving diversity within the topical realm and the many numerous options are great from a consumer standpoint. With all of these different products available, however, new concerns exist within sourcing and production techniques from the companies creating them. Therefore, consumers should be informed and aware of what they are buying and putting on their skin.

As with any product intended for physical consumption or absorption, whether that be internal or external, consumers should be fully aware of the ingredients in the product. While a product intended for topical use may seem less likely to affect the consumer–and topical products do interact within the human body differently than other methods–there is still need for concern over any potential contaminants.

The concerns that arise in regards to contaminants in topical products are similar to other forms of cannabis products. A high-end product should include quality ingredients and is expected to be free of any pollutants or impurities. With cannabis and CBD products, the potential for contamination stems from how a plant is grown and/or processed.

The use of pesticides in the growing process can lead to toxins and other harmful chemicals leaching their way into the plant itself and creating the potential for harm.[1] These additives can, over time, turn a helpful and potentially medicinal product into one that does more damage than repair.

One way to vet a topical is by purchasing products that have been properly third-party tested for any of these potential contaminants. Until standardized regulation of these products is in effect, third-party testing offers a safeguard to ensure safety and provide peace of mind.

These results can be found on a Certificate of Analysis, or CoA. It you can’t find one on the site or product you are buying, make sure to contact the company. The CoA will contain information on the levels of potential contaminants in the product ,such as pesticides, heavy metals, molds, and microbes.

As with any product intended for physical use, consumers should screen topicals so they can make an informed choice. There are so many products out there–be safe and proactive in your search and purchases.

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  1. Seltenrich N. Into the weeds: Regulating pesticides in cannabis. Environ Health Perspect. 2019;127(4):1-8.

The article was originally published in Topical Magazine

About the author

Caleb Summeril

Caleb Summeril writes creative copy, stories and songs from the mountains of Colorado. When not working on words, he can be found on global gallivants which fuel future endeavors. Learn more about his writing services at

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