Early Warning System for Illicit Drug Use at Large Public Events: Trace Residue Analysis of Discarded Drug Packaging Samples
AuthorWest, H; Fitzgerald, J; Hopkins, K; Li, E; Clark, N; Tzanetis, S; Greene, SL; Reid, GE
Source TitleJournal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry
PublisherAMER CHEMICAL SOC
AffiliationSchool of Social and Political Sciences
School of Chemistry
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsWest, H., Fitzgerald, J., Hopkins, K., Li, E., Clark, N., Tzanetis, S., Greene, S. L. & Reid, G. E. (2021). Early Warning System for Illicit Drug Use at Large Public Events: Trace Residue Analysis of Discarded Drug Packaging Samples. JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR MASS SPECTROMETRY, 32 (10), pp.2604-2614. https://doi.org/10.1021/jasms.1c00232.
Access StatusThis item is embargoed and will be available on 2022-08-30
ARC Grant codeARC/DP0209963
Inspired by Locard's exchange principle, which states "every contact leaves a trace", a trace residue sampling strategy has been developed for the analysis of discarded drug packaging samples (DPS), as part of an early warning system for illicit drug use at large public events including music/dance festivals. Using direct analysis in real time/mass spectrometry and tandem mass spectrometry, rapid and high-throughput identification and characterization of a wide range of illicit drugs and adulterant substances was achieved, including in complex polydrug mixtures and at low relative ion abundances. A total of 1362 DPS were analyzed either off-site using laboratory-based instrumentation or on-site and in close to real time using a transportable mass spectrometer housed within a mobile analytical laboratory, with each analysis requiring less than 1 min per sample. Of the DPS analyzed, 92.2% yielded positive results for at least one of 15 different drugs and/or adulterants, including cocaine, MDMA, and ketamine, as well as numerous novel psychoactive substances (NPS). Also, 52.6% of positive DPS were found to contain polydrug mixtures, and a total of 42 different drug and polydrug combinations were observed throughout the study. For analyses performed on-site, reports to key stakeholders including event organizers, first aid and medical personnel, and peer-based harm reduction workers could be provided in as little as 5 min after sample collection. Following risk assessment of the potential harms associated with their use, drug advisories or alerts were then disseminated to event staff and patrons and subsequently to the general public when substances with particularly toxic properties were identified.
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