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Detection of Gamma-Hydroxybutyric Acid in Various Drink Matrices via AccuTOF-DART

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Sciences Volume: 54 Issue: 2 Dated: March 2009 Pages: 370-375
Mark J. Bennett B.S.; Robert R. Steiner M.S.
Date Published
March 2009
6 pages
This study validated a new screening method for detecting gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) in drink matrices, an increasingly used means of inducing short-term comas for sexual assaults; and the new screening method was compared with the current screening methodology.
The new screening method uses the IonSense, Inc. (Saugus, MA) direct analysis in real time (DART) ion source coupled with an accurate mass time-of-flight (TOF) mass spectrometer, called the AccuTOF (JEOL USA, Inc., Peabody, MA). TOF mass analyzers provide the advantage of rapid data acquisition rates, simplicity of design, a wide observed mass range, and exact mass measurements, which can produce accurate elemental composition information. In testing this screening method, positive detection of GHB occurred for each of 50 drink specimens spiked with various concentrations of GHB (100-percent accuracy). Currently, color tests are typically used in screening drink matrices for the presence of GHB. Positive results for a color test are only indicative of a particular chemical functionality being present; however, combinations of different color tests may be used to help in narrowing the possible identity of the unknown sample to a specific drug or a class of drugs. The primary color test used in screening for GHB at the Virginia Department of Forensic Science is the GHB Color Test #3. When this test was used with 25 of the 50 drink specimens, only 2 tested positive for the presence of GHB (8-percent accuracy). Use of the new screening method for GHB analysis will quickly eliminate negative specimens, allowing the examiner to focus on those specimens that screened positive. The description of the new screening method addresses materials and equipment, the lower limit of detection, selectivity, verification of known samples, and the procedures for GHB Color Test #3. 4 tables, 1 figure, and 10 references


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