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February 2, 2021

How Heavy Metals And Pesticides Are Getting Into CBD Oil


Nesas Hemp is sourced from the purest sources to ensure that heavy metals and pesticides are never present. You can rest assured that we work tirelessly to ensure the highest quality in our beyond organic standards. This article was written to show you what is common among other CBD products and what to be on the lookout for when it comes to pesticides and heavy metals. 

Trace elements with a Big Impact

Heavy metals are naturally occurring trace elements in the earth’s soil, occurring at a rate of one part per billion (ppb). There are a number of factors that play into their bioavailability, including temperature, adsorption (how a solid holds molecules of gas or liquid as a thin film), and sequestration (removal of an element from the atmosphere). Most environmental and human contamination of heavy metals are the result of human activities such as mining and smelting, industrial production, coal burning, petroleum combustion. Natural events such as weather and volcanic eruptions may also contribute to heavy metal concentration in soil.

Small as they are, heavy metals such as cobalt, copper, chromium, and iron are essential nutrients needed for a variety of biochemical and physiological functions. However, when the concentration becomes too high the benefits can turn toxic and may lead to serious, negative health effects such as DNA damage, illness, and even organ damage. Research has shown that the most dangerous heavy metals health include arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, and mercury because of their ability to induce multiple organ damage, even at low levels of exposure.

Ingestion, inhalation, and dermal contact are the three main sources of exposure. How severe the negative effects are, depend on the type of metal and its chemical form (particle size, solubility, biotransformation, and number of electrons). Time and amount of exposure will also play a role in how toxic certain heavy metals can be. (1)

The Toxic Effects

Typically, the toxicity of consuming metals is the result of a chemical reaction between the metal ions with cellular proteins, enzymes, and membranes. The target organs of different metals are dependent on the means of exposure and the specific characteristics of the metal. The following table, presented in the International Journal of Research – Granthaalayah in 2015 presents a summary of the most common heavy metals and their effects on humans. (2)

Clinical Aspects of Chronic Toxicities

Metal Target Organ Primary Sources Clinical Effects
Arsenic Lungs, Nervous System, Skin Industrial Dusts, Medicinal Uses of Polluted Water and Food Perforation of Nasal Septum, Lung Cancer, Peripheral Neuropathy Dermatomes, Skin Cancer
Cadmium Kidneys, Bones, Lungs Industrial Dust and Fumes, Polluted Water Proteinuria, Glucosuria, Osteomalacia, Aminoaciduria, Emphysema
Chromium Lungs Industrial Dust and Fumes, Polluted Food Ulcer, Perforation of Nasal Septum, Lung Cancer
Manganese Nervous System Industrial Dust and Fumes Central and Peripheral Neuropathies
Lead Nervous System, Hematopoietic System, Kidneys Industrial Dust and Fumes and Polluted food Encephalopathy, Peripheral Neuropathy, Central Nervous Disorders, Anemia
Nickel Lungs, Skin Industrial Dust, Aerosols Cancer, Dramatix
Tin Nervous System, Lungs Medicinal Uses, Industrial Dusts Central Nervous System disorders, Visual Defects, EEG changes, Pneumoconiosis
Mercury Nervous System, Kidneys Industrial Dust and Fumes, Polluted Water and Food Proteinuria

The Pesticide Problem

Pesticides are materials that are mostly used in agriculture to prevent plants, weeds, or disease from affecting plants, and protect humans from diseases such as malaria, and dengue fever. Unfortunately, time and research have shown that many of these substances have negative health effects and have been banned from agricultural use.

Like heavy metals, exposure to pesticides occurs through the skin, ingestion, or inhalation. And, like heavy metals, the type, duration, and means of exposure will impact the toxicity of a pesticide.

What makes pesticides in CBD production even more concerning is that hemp is known as a “soil sucker,” meaning that during the growing season, hemp heavily draws in nutrients from the soil. It also purifies the ground from contaminates, very similar to the way a vacuum will remove whatever is in its path. In fact, hemp was used to help clean up the heavy metals in the land around Chernobyl.

Unfortunately, because of its soil sucking action, pesticides are often found in the hemp plant or bud itself. What makes this even more complicated is that the atomic weight of pesticides is similar to cannabinoids, making it difficult to pinpoint and eliminate them.

What this means for CBD production is that hemp sellers will often sell “cleansing crops” to CBD oil makers, and it will take several years for Pesticides to be removed permanently from the soil. (3)

Future Prevention of Contamination

There are a number of ways to eliminate heavy metals from the ground naturally. The obvious way is to excavate and dispose of contaminated soil. One of the simplest ways, called “in situ” fixation or stabilization. Adding phosphate fertilizer to soil with high amounts of heavy metal lead (the chemical reaction between phosphate and lead results in the formation of lead pyromorphite which is insoluble, meaning this new mineral won’t dissolve in water.

  • Phytoremediation – growing plants to contain or reduce heavy metal pollution. It is low cost and has great public support, though it can take longer to accomplish.
  • Phytostabilization - plants are used to reduce wind and water erosion that spreads heavy metals. Grass or trees are used as buffers to reduce sediment loss.
  • Phytoextraction –  using certain plants that can take up heavy metals and concentrate them in their tissue. Plants are then harvested and the contaminated plant material is disposed of safely. (4)

Pesticide reduction is, in many ways, not all that different from what has been mentioned above for heavy metals. Those in the hemp production and CBD community can learn a lot from the agricultural advances and the standards already developed. The research on natural and non-chemical pesticides is somewhat limited right now but shows promise. The leaves from the neem, or margosa, tree has shown to be a natural producer of pesticides. (5) Another plant, Lal chitta, found mostly in Bangladesh has shown excellent pest-controlling properties. (6)

Buyer Be Aware

Given the increasing popularity of CBD oil, it’s important to include a “best practice” approach to ensure the quality of the product and minimize any heavy metals and/or pesticide contamination. While there are some promising natural solutions on the horizon for the reduction of heavy metals and pesticides in hemp production, including phytoremediation and non-chemical compounds, there is much more research needed.

When considering CBD products for personal use, the consumer is king. Be smart, ask questions, and do your research. Nesas Organic CBDa Hemp Extract is cold-pressed, made from living hemp, and you can verify the quality for yourself by viewing the actual lab report. We make it available because we care deeply about you and your health.


  1. Tchounwou, P.B., Yedjoi, C.G., Patlolla, A.K., Sutton, D.J. Heavy metals toxicity and the environment. Molecular, Environmental Toxicology. Experientia Supplementum, vol. 101. pp. 133-164. Springer, Basel.
  2. Mahurpawar, M. Effects of heavy metals on human health. International Journal of Research – Granthaalayah. September, 2015.
  3. O’Connor, J., Valor, S. How heavy metals and pesticides are getting into CBD oil. From the website:
  4. Lambert, M. Leven, B.A., Green, R.M. New methods of cleaning up heavy metal in soil and water. Hazardous Substance Research Centers. Kansas State University, Environmental Science and Technology Briefs for Citizens.
  5. Schmutterer, H. Properties and potential of natural pesticides from the neem tree, azadirachta indica. Annual Review of Entomology. 1990. 35: 271-97.
  6. Chhetri, A.B. Islam, P., Islam, R. Development of Natural pesticides from fruits and plant extracts. Journal of Nature Science and Sustainable Technology. 2008, Volume 2, Issue 3, 335-346.
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This product is not for use by or sale to persons under the age of 18. This product should be used only as directed on the label. It should not be used if you are pregnant or nursing. Consult with a physician before use if you have a serious medical condition or use prescription medications. A doctor’s advice should be sought before using this and any supplemental dietary product. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Void where prohibited by law.
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