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Keywords:

  • forensic science;
  • controlled substances;
  • screening;
  • gamma-hydroxybutyric acid;
  • gamma-hydroxybutyrate;
  • direct analysis in real time;
  • mass spectrometry;
  • time of flight

Abstract:  A new screening method for detecting gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) in drink matrices, using the IonSense, Inc. (Saugus, MA) direct analysis in real time (DART) ion source coupled to a JEOL exact mass time-of-flight mass spectrometer (AccuTOF), was validated and compared with the current screening methodology. The DART ion source allows for analysis of samples under ambient conditions with little to no sample preparation. Fifty drink specimens were spiked at levels of 1, 2, 3, and 4 mg/mL GHB, and analyzed on the AccuTOF-DART. Positive detection of GHB occurred for each of the samples at each concentration level, giving 100% accuracy for the samples tested. Twenty-five of the 50 drink specimens were spiked at 1 mg/mL GHB and tested using a color test known as the GHB Color Test #3. Only two of these 25 specimens tested positive for the presence of GHB, giving only 8% accuracy. Implementation of this new methodology as a screening tool for GHB analysis will quickly eliminate negative specimens allowing the examiner to focus analysis time on those that screened positive.