More parents going to local labs to have children tested for vaping

ATLANTA — Vaping is a very big and very real worry for many local parents. Many teenagers are used to hiding the cigarette alternatives from their moms and dads.

Channel 2's Linda Stouffer has learned that metro Atlanta parents are now testing their kids to see if they are vaping.

“Vaping can deliver nicotine to your brain, reprogramming you to crave more and more,” said Lacretia Waller, with Any Lab Test Now.

Addictive nicotine shoots up to a kid's brain in seconds, according to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

Federal health officials are pushing new messages about the dangerous costs of what they call a teenage vaping epidemic.

Doctors say nicotine can spike heart rates, cause high blood pressure and affect memory. Vaping also pushes chemicals into the lungs.

“It’s hidden from me, but I’m a mini detective as a mother,” local mother Diann Cattani told Stouffer.

Cattani went to Any Lab Test Now on Peachtree Street to learn about vaping tests for her kids.

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“If someone is using nicotine, we can test their urine, hair, blood,” Waller said.

The testing lab offers tests from $70 up to $120 looking for exposure to nicotine. The lab manager told Stouffer that testing hair could cover several months.

“We can go back to 90 days because we’re taking your follicle,” Waller said.

“There’s always the fine line with being a controlling parent, but we have a responsibility to educate our kids and to know,” Cattani said.

If you search "nicotine test" on Amazon, you can find dozens of home tests for parents who often don't know if their kids even have vapes.

Many vaping devices look like electronics or flash drives, and some vape products promise as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.

At the testing lab, they're seeing concerned parents of children as young as 12.

“Usually a lot of high school students. Some middle school, not even that uncommon anymore,” Waller said.

Stouffer asked how well the tests work, and lab workers said they don't have numbers on that, but they partner with the same kinds of medical labs your doctor might use for blood tests.

If you go to the lab directly, you can use a nickname to protect your kid's identity.

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta sent some advice on ways parents can test to see if their child is vaping:

“If you suspect your child is vaping, there are very accessible products that can check for nicotine and/or cotinine, a major byproduct of nicotine which stays in the system longer than nicotine alone.   Samples can be obtained from blood, urine, hair or saliva, however urine tests are thought to be more readily available, cheaper and yield quicker turnaround times.  

"Urine kits, which can be purchased online or in-stores, can detect cotinine 3 days to 3 weeks from nicotine use. This time frame is dependent on how often your child is vaping, for instance, if your child is a daily user, the cotinine will remain in the urine for a longer period of time.  

"It is also important to note that companies are now selling nicotine-free vape pods.  If there is no nicotine in the pod of use, tests will yield undetectable results."