ATLANTA (WSB/CNN) – Officials say more teens than ever are vaping, but it can be hard for parents to know if their kids are doing it.
Some are turning to tests that promise to detect it.
Vaping can deliver nicotine to your brain, reprogramming you to crave more and more.
Addictive nicotine shoots up to a kid’s brain in seconds, says Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
Federal health officials are showing the costs of what they call a teenage vaping epidemic.
Doctors said nicotine can spike heart rates, blood pressure and affect memory, and vapes push chemicals into the lungs.
“It’s hidden from me, but I’m a mini-detective as a mother,” said Diann Cattani, an Atlanta-area parent. "There’s always that fine line to being a controlling parent, but we have a responsibility to educate our kids and to know.”
Cattani came to Atlanta company Any Lab Test Now to learn about vaping tests for her kids.
"So, if someone is using nicotine, we can test their urine, hair, blood," said Lacretia Waller, the lab manager.
The company offers tests from $70 up to $120 looking for exposure to nicotine.
Waller said testing hair could cover several months.
"Hair, we can go back to 90 days. And that's because we're taking the follicle,” she said.
Parents can also search for nicotine tests on Amazon. There are dozens of home tests for parents who often don’t know if their kids even have vaping devices, because they look like electronics or flash drives, some promising as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.
Any Lab Test Now is seeing concerned parents of kids as young as 12.
"Usually a lot of high school students, even now middle school. It's just not that uncommon anymore," Waller said.
As far as how well the tests work, the lab says they don't have numbers on that, but they partner with the same kinds of labs doctors might use for blood tests.
A few caveats about these tests: Kids who’ve chewed nicotine gum or breathed in second-hand smoke can return positive results.
And not all vapes contain nicotine – and those won’t show up on a test.