Fast analysis of drugs in a single hair

S. B. Wainhaus, N. Tzanani, S. Dagan, M. L. Miller, A. Amirav*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A new method for the fast screening of cocaine and 6-monoacetylmorphine (6-MAM) in a single hair, using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS), is described. The analyses are conducted in less than 10 min with minimal sample preparation. The novel method combines the ChromatoProbe direct sample introduction device for intrainjector thermal extraction, fast GC separation, a supersonic molecular beam GC/MS interface and hyperthermal surface ionization (HSI). The technique has been successfully employed for the detection of cocaine in as little as a 1-mm section of hair using selected ion monitoring (SIM). Unambiguous full scan mass spectra of cocaine and 6-MAM were obtained on a single hair for cocaine and heroin users, respectively. HSI was found to be almost 3 orders of magnitude more selective than electron impact ionization for cocaine compared with the major hair constituents, with a minimum detected concentration of approximately 10 ppb in the SIM mode. Results obtained for 12 drug users showed full qualitative agreement with similar results using rigorous solvent extraction followed by electrospray-liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry analysis. However, quantitative studies showed only partial agreement. No false positives were observed for 10 drug free subjects. This method enables fast drug monitoring along the hair length which permits time correlation studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1311-1320
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1998


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