Is It Bad To Smoke Out Of A Dirty Bong?
Here’s What The Experts Say (And What The Cannabis Industry Doesn't Want us to Talk about)
We’ve all been there. The bong is dirty, and we are tired and just want to wind down. It’s tempting to just dive into the next session, but here is why it’s worth your time to keep your smoking equipment clean.
Health Impact Of Dirty Bongs: Are They Safe?
In short, dirty bongs can be dangerous because they can be a breeding ground for bacteria.
A study published in 2017 documents a case involving a young, healthy 23-year-old male who was a regular cannabis user smoking through a contaminated water pipe.
He was admitted to the emergency room after complaining of fever and difficulty breathing. After running a CT scan on the patient doctors concluded that he had a “non-expanding “trapped” lung with thickened pleural”(1). Pleural is the condition where fluid builds up in the lungs preventing expansion and reception of oxygen.
They concluded that he had contracted pneumonia by inhaling “contaminated aerosol water that resulted in pseudomonas NP through smoking marijuana through a supposedly filtered bong.
This was confirmed by consistent cultures from both sputum and swab samples of the device”(1). This patient recovered but has continued to struggle with ongoing impairment of his lungs.
How do bacterial growths occur in bongs?
Stagnant bong water is a haven for growing bacteria that can result in a multitude of infections in the body when inhaled. Even more concerning is that, when you smoke through your pipe, you are heating that bacteria-filled water, which only accelerates their growth.
When you inhale through these pipes, you essentially aerosolize the water and whatever bacterial organisms have developed in your pieces.
This study is a bit frightening, to say the least, since we have all smoked from dirty bongs before. Moreover, when dealing with cannabis specifically, it has been shown that “Compared to cigarette smoking, marijuana inhalation demonstrates a greater damaging effect” when your bong water is contaminated.
“There is replacement of ciliated bronchial epithelial cells by predominant hyperplastic mucus‐secreting (goblet) cells and severe impairment in clearance of mucus that traps harmful particles and organisms, thus resulting in a defective protective mechanism of the lower respiratory tract”(1).
While this finding is concerning, it is very infrequently discussed in the cannabis community. As a result, there is very little education about the potential negative health effects of being a cannabis user.
Our approach is different. We care a lot about our customers and their health, and as a result, we have decided to take an open and honest approach to this challenge. With proper cleaning and use, cannabis can be an incredibly beneficial medicine, and we believe it helps a lot of people.
Are There Benefits To Using Cannabis Correctly?
An Article Published by Harvard Health details just a few of the potential benefits of Marijuana when used properly; “The most common use for medical marijuana in the United States is for pain control.
While marijuana isn’t strong enough for severe pain (for example, post-surgical pain or a broken bone), it is quite effective for the chronic pain that plagues millions of Americans, especially as they age.
Part of its allure is that [cannabis] is clearly safer than opiates (it is impossible to overdose on and far less addictive), and it can take the place of NSAIDs, such as Advil or Aleve, if people can’t take them due to problems with their kidneys or ulcers or GERD.”(2)
With the growing epidemic of opioid abuse in this country and across the world, cannabis may begin to play an increasingly large role in pain management and improvement of life.
This is all very exciting news. However, if used in an unhealthy manner by smoking through contaminated devices, you can wave goodbye to all of these benefits! Clean that bong!
1). Kumar, Agni Nhirmal, et al. “Marijuana ‘Bong’ Pseudomonas Lung Infection: A Detrimental Recreational Experience.” Respirology Case Reports, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 22 Dec. 2017, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5756717/.
2). Peter Grinspoon, MD. “Medical Marijuana.” Harvard Health, 10 Apr. 2020, https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/medical-marijuana-2018011513085.