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Detection of Opioids on Mail/Packages Using Open Port Interface Mass Spectrometry (OPI-MS)

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journal contribution
posted on 20.10.2020, 18:30 by Haidy Metwally, Prashant Agrawal, Rachael Smith, Chang Liu, Yves LeBlanc, Thomas R. Covey, Richard Oleschuk
Opioids (and their more potent synthetic analogues) are used therapeutically as effective pain killers; however, recreational use and consequent overdoses are implicated in the deaths of thousands of people across the world annually. Trafficking of opioids and other illegal drugs through international mail has become a significant challenge for law enforcement personnel. Hundreds of millions of letters are sorted by the U.S. and Canadian postal services every day. Chemical analysis of this immense volume of mail requires a very fast sampling/detection method. This work explores the use of real-time mass spectrometry analysis with the recently developed Open Port Interface (OPI) for acoustically dispensed nanoliter volume sample droplets, a type of liquid microjunction surface sampling probe, for rapid and easy non-intrusive detection of fentanyl, heroin, and oxycodone. The OPI coupled to mass spectrometry is a novel sample introduction method that allows the rapid analysis of sample surfaces without preparation or modification. Opioids on different packaging materials (e.g., paper, bubble wrap, Ziploc bags) were rapidly (<10 s) interrogated by the OPI, and the sensitivities of the method compared. Furthermore, an opioid surrogate (caffeine) could be facilely detected on envelopes after processing through postal services.