Journal Article

Amphetamines Detected in Exhaled Breath from Drug Addicts: A New Possible Method for Drugs-of-Abuse Testing

Olof Beck, Kathinka Leine, Göran Palmskog and Johan Franck

in Journal of Analytical Toxicology

Volume 34, issue 5, pages 233-237
Published in print June 2010 | ISSN: 0146-4760
Published online June 2010 | e-ISSN: 1945-2403 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jat/34.5.233
Amphetamines Detected in Exhaled Breath from Drug Addicts: A New Possible Method for Drugs-of-Abuse Testing

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Testing for drugs of abuse in sample matrices alternative to urine such as blood, sweat, and saliva have received increasing attention and is needed, for example, in traffic medicine. Human breath is known to contain a large number of substances including non-volatile molecules. We explore whether intake of amphetamines could be detected by analytical investigation of exhaled breath from drug addicts. Exhaled breath was collected from 12 drug addict patients after recovering from acute intoxication. Self-reported intake of “amphetamine” was confirmed by analysis of urine and plasma. The compounds were trapped by filtering the air through a modified silica surface and subsequently analyzed by a combined liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry method. As a control, exhaled breath was collected in the same way from eight healthy volunteers. Here we report for the first time that amphetamine and methamphetamine are present in exhaled breath following ingestion of these compounds by drug addicts. Both amphetamine and methamphetamine were indisputably identified by means of the mass spectrometry technique in exhaled breath samples from all 12 patients. Identifications were based on monitoring two product ions in selected reaction monitoring mode and having correct relative ratios (± 20%). Excretion rates ranged from 0.2 to 139 pg/min. No amphetamine or methamphetamine was detected in the control subjects. This finding, using a yet non-validated sampling procedure, opens a new possibility for drugs-of-abuse testing. Collection of exhaled breath is likely to be more convenient and safe as compared to matrices presently in use.

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Subjects: Medical Toxicology ; Toxicology (Non-medical)

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