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Hazards of illicit cannabis cultivation for public, users and intervention staff (HILCAN)

Research project DR/67 (Research action DR)


Persons :

  • Dr.  VAN DAMME Patrick - Universiteit Gent (RUG)
    Coordinator of the project
    Financed belgian partner
    Duration: 1/1/2014-31/12/2014
  • Prof. dr.  TYTGAT Jan - Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (K.U.Leuven)
    Financed belgian partner
    Duration: 1/1/2014-31/12/2014

Description :

Problem statement

The rising number of seizures of cannabis plantations in Belgium entails an increasing impact on the Belgian society. First of all, (large-scale) cannabis plantations are usually operated/managed by criminal gangs (often based in The Netherlands), which causes safety problems and nuisance to society. However, cannabis plantations also have raised a number of health and safety issues.
These are of particular concern to:

• intervention staff and dismantling companies: upon entering/dismantling grow rooms, the following hazards may occur (list is non-exhaustive): booby traps, unsafe electrical wiring practices, toxic atmosphere: resulting from e.g. ozone generators, or from recently performed pesticide sprays, toxic/allergenic substances: (cannabis itself, pesticides and/or grow substances), and high UV levels from grow lamps;

• Plantation's direct environment: The problems described above might therefore also pose a threat to plantation neighbours, particularly in densely populated (urban) areas;

• Cannabis users: problems resulting from pesticide and/or other plant additive residues on dried cannabis buds; and/or elevated cannabinoid concentrations.

Objectives

• Make a complete and comprehensive inventory of the hazards resulting from indoor cannabis cultivation for each of the target groups described above (qualitative and quantitative analysis).
• Develop firm guidelines for police and governments on containing health risks resulting from cannabis cultivation, use and plantation confiscation and dismantling.

Methods

Overall, the project approach is interdisciplinary. More precisely, it will combine the agronomic skills and product knowledge (pesticides, fertilizers, etc.) in cannabis cultivation with a toxicological approach. The project starts with a literature study (predominantly foreign reports and papers) on safety aspects of indoor cannabis plantations. Subsequently and in collaboration with the Belgian Federal Police a representative number of confiscated indoor cannabis plantations will be visited during which data on the encountered products and technical installation will be recorded and samples of products, atmosphere and cannabis plants will be collected. Samples will be toxicologically analyzed (THC-concentrations, pesticide residues, etc.).

Expected outcome

Research results will for the first time quantify the gravity of health problems related to cannabis growing. Pesticide problems for example, are evidenced through regular discovery of empty pesticide tanks by police upon confiscation of cannabis plantations, but a comprehensive overview of carefully measured concentrations of e.g. insecticides on plant samples; ozone, CO and other contaminant concentrations in air samples and concentrations of pollutants in sewage water and/or local water resources, is lacking up to date. Eventually, a manual will be composed that will significantly increase safety of interventions by police, fire fighters and dismantling personnel.


Documentation :

Gevaren van de illegale binnenteelt van cannabis voor de omgeving en interventiepersoneel (HILCAN) : eindrapport  Tytgat, Jan - Van Damme, Patrick - Cuypers, Eva ... et al.  Brussel : Federaal Wetenschapsbeleid, 2017 (SP2673)
[To download

Gevaren van de illegale binnenteelt van cannabis voor de omgeving en interventiepersoneel (HILCAN) : annexe  Tytgat, Jan - Van Damme, Patrick - Cuypers, Eva ... et al.  Brussel : Federaal Wetenschapsbeleid, 2017 (SP2674)
[To download

Gevaren van de illegale binnenteelt van cannabis voor de omgeving en interventiepersoneel (HILCAN) : samenvatting  Tytgat, Jan - Van Damme, Patrick - Cuypers, Eva ... et al.  Brussel : Federaal Wetenschapsbeleid, 2017 (SP2675)
[To download

La culture illicite de cannabis en intérieur - les dangers pour l'environnement et le personnel d'intervention (HILCAN) : résumé  Tytgat, Jan - Van Damme, Patrick - Cuypers, Eva ... et al.  Bruxelles : Politique scientifique fédérale, 2017 (SP2676)
[To download

Hazards of illicit indoor cannabis cultivation for the environment and intervention staff (HILCAN) : summary  Tytgat, Jan - Van Damme, Patrick - Cuypers, Eva ... et al.  Brussels : Belgian Science Policy, 2017 (SP2677)
[To download

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