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Testing & Analysis

*services and testing specifications vary location to location

Cannabinoids (Potency)
Cannabinoids are the most abundant chemical compounds found in cannabis and are designated as the primary indicator of cannabis potency (particularly THC and CBD). High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) or Gas Chromatography (GC) is used to analyze these compounds that are found in cannabis flowers, concentrates, and other infused products. Steep Hill provides one of the most comprehensive cannabinoid profiles available. We employ premium instruments and qualified methodologies to quantify up to 20 cannabinoids, depending on location.

Terpenes are the most abundant volatile compounds in cannabis and are responsible for the unique scent profile associated with various cannabis cultivars. Terpenes have been shown to contribute to a cultivar's unique physiological and psychological influence - a phenomenon known as the entourage effect. At Steep Hill, we leverage the powerful technologies of Gas Chromatography with Mass Spectrometry and Headspace Sampling to accurately detect and quantify up to 40 terpenes, depending on location.

Pesticides Analysis
Steep Hill offers quantitative pesticide reporting, which provides a clear understanding of a given pesticide contamination issue down to sub part per million levels. Steep Hill currently takes advantage of both LC-MS (Liquid Chromatography - Mass Spectrometry) and, in some locations, GC-MS (Gas Chromatography - Mass Spectrometry) techniques to provide quantified pesticide testing for dozens of targets, including: Abamectin, Bifenazate, Bifenthrin, Daminozide, Etoxazole, Fenoxycarb, Imazazil, Imidacloprid, Myclobutanil, Paclobutrazol, Pyrethrins, Spinosad, Spiromesifen, Spirotetramat, and Trifloxystrobin, and more, depending on location. Pesticide testing requirements vary state to state, however Steep Hill can help you better understand which requirements must be met in your state.

Mycotoxins Analysis
Mycotoxins are a toxic secondary metabolite produced by funghi and can be particularly harmful to humans if ingested. Steep Hill provides mycotoxin analysis for Aflatoxin B1, B2, G1, G2, as well as for Ochratoxin A, which is performed by LC-MS/MS (Liquid Chromatography - Mass Spectrometry).

Heavy Metals Analysis
Cannabis collects heavy metals. It absorbs them from the growing environment. The cannabis plant is an excellent bioremediator, soaking up large amounts of whatever the roots come in contact with. Therefore, a cannabis plant will absorb toxic compounds, including heavy metals, such as Lead, Cadmium, Mercury, and Arsenic. Even at extremely low levels, heavy metals can be extremely hazardous to one’s health if ingested. Without uniform regulations for heavy metal testing, medical cannabis patients have no way of knowing whether their products are contaminated with these hazardous compounds – all of which pose serious health risks. For heavy metals testing, Steep Hill uses ICP-MS (Inductively Coupled Plasma - Mass Spectrometry) instrumentation to detect heavy metals at concentrations as low as one part per billion, giving patients and their caregivers additional assurance when it comes to the safety of their medicine.

Residual Solvents Analysis
Solvents are often used in the production/extraction of cannabis derivative products such as oils, distillates and other types of cannabis concentrates. Ideally, these solvents are totally purged from a product before packaging. Sometimes, however, residual solvent can be left behind in the product and can be dangerous for consumers. Steep Hill uses Gas Chromatography - Mass Spectrometry, along with a Headspace Autosampling to quantitate residual solvents in manufactured cannabis products to ensure those products are free from solvents, or contain less than a specified limit. Our methodology and instrumentation are the most advanced used in the cannabis industry today. We currently screen for dozens of volatile compounds, including the following solvents: acetone, butane, ethanol, isobutane, isopropanol, methane, propane, pentane, and hexane, depending on location. Comprehensive solvent screening for manufactured cannabis products is offered for both R&D and compliance testing.

Microbial Analysis
Molds are ubiquitous, and trace amounts can be found in almost every cannabis sample. However, exposure to high levels of microorganisms such as molds and bacteria are known to cause health problems and can be particularly dangerous to patients that have existing medical conditions. The Steep Hill microbiological screening program ensures the safety of cannabis by identifying the type and amount of potentially dangerous microorganisms present in each sample.  Cannabis that contains dangerous amounts of bacteria should be remediated or destroyed. Most states have established tolerance limits for microbiological contamination in cannabis. Microbiology testing may also be conducted via culturing or qPCR instrumentation, depending on location.


Foreign Matter Inspection
Quality cannabis products must not contain foreign contaminants, eg. hair, bugs, metal, etc., that would not be detected through other safety testing. Despite following strict hygiene and cleanliness protocols in production areas, these contaminants can sometimes make their way into products. Steep Hill provides foreign matter inspection via visual inspection to ensure your products are free from any foreign matter contamination that may have gone unnoticed during the cultivation or processing of your product.

Moisture Content Analysis
If your cannabis product contains too much moisture when it is packaged, it increases the risk of microbial growth and impacts shelf-stability of that product. Therefore, it is important to understand the moisture content of your product before packaging to reduce the potential risk of microbial growth and future product recalls. Steep Hill offers moisture content analysis by Loss on Drying, where the amount of water content is measured by using heat to evaporate off existing water, then comparing the original and final weight of the sample.

Water Activity Analysis
Water Activity analysis is performed to ensure your product's water activity level is at or below a specific threshold to reduce the risk of microbial growth while your product sits in its packaging. Ensuring your product's water activity level falls below this threshold provides confidence that the shelf-life of your product is maximized. At Steep Hill, water activity analysis is performed by measurement of water vapor in a Water Activity Meter.

Vitamin E Acetate
Vitamin E Acetate was thrust into the spotlight in 2019 when it was indicated as one of the potential culprits contributing to serious health repercussions related to unregulated vape product consumption. Steep Hill performs Vitamin E Acetate analysis by either HPLC, LC-MS or GC-MS, depending on location, to ensure your vape products do not have this potentially harmful ingredient in its formulation.

Homogeneity Testing
When manufacturing infused cannabis products, it is important to ensure that the active ingredients, most often cannabinoids, are evenly distributed throughout the product. Homogeneity testing with Steep Hill allows you to optimize your manufacturing process by indicating how evenly distributed your active ingredients are in your current product formulation. Homogeneity testing is performed by dividing a product unit into smaller portions, and performing potency testing on each portion to determine the consistency of cannabinoid distribution across each portion.

Hemp Analysis
As hemp production increases and the need for qualified input material grows, Steep Hill provides the testing and analysis services required to qualify the quality and safety of your hemp and hemp-derived products. Importantly, Steep Hill provides the ability to determine if your hemp falls below the 0.3% Total THC limit, as well, provides various additional services required to ensure the safety and quality of your product.

Heavy Metals
Water Activity
Vitamin E
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Other Services

Consulting Services
We offer consulting services in the areas of analytical testing, cannabis testing regulations, test methods, LIMS (laboratory information management systems), product quality and safety.

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