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Identification of volatile components in the headspace of pharmaceutical-grade fentanyl

NCJ Number
Forensic Chemistry Volume: 24 Dated: June 2021
Stephanie R. Vaughan; Lauryn E. DeGreeff; Leann Forte; Howard K. Holness; Kenneth G. Furton
Date Published

This article presents research into the development of a non-contact, field portable method for the detection of fentanyl.


The immense potency of fentanyl and its persistent use poses great danger to abusers and law enforcement personnel. With just a few milligrams capable of causing an overdose, most agencies advise personnel to avoid handling fentanyl or related materials directly. However, there are limited field-portable and non-contact methods for the detection of fentanyl. Thus, the development of a non-contact field portable detection method is essential. To facilitate the development of a non-contact detection method, the volatile signature of fentanyl was explored using a solid phase microextraction (SPME) coupled with gas chromatography and mass spectrometry (GC–MS) method. SPME-GC–MS was used to collect and establish the vapor signature of pure pharmaceutical-grade fentanyl and diluted pharmaceutical-grade fentanyl. The collection and analysis of these vapor signatures has provided an essential stepping-stone in the future development of a non-contact vapor detection method for fentanyl. (Published Abstract Provided)