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A Method for Measuring the Quantity of Drugs on Surfaces in a Forensic Laboratory



Edward R. Sisco, Marcela N. Najarro, Amber Burns


While background studies have been commonplace in many occupational fields for a long time, attempts to understand the chemical background in forensics labs has been largely understudied. However, given the increasing sensitivity of instrumentation and increasing potency of drugs of abuse, establishing the chemical background in an operational environment is becoming increasingly important. This work aims to provide a method and preliminary results for identifying and quantifying the drug background on surfaces throughout the forensic laboratory. Samples were collected from the drug unit, evidence receiving unit, report writing area, and other units throughout a main laboratory and two satellite laboratories. The levels of 18 drugs of abuse were quantified using LC/MS/MS while TD-DART-MS was used for a non-targeted screen of additional compounds. Results showed surface levels were greatest within the drug unit and were primarily focused on benches, balances, and instrumentation. Noticeable differences between the surface levels of different analysts were observed. Levels of drugs outside of the drug unit were significantly lower in most instances. This work is being presented as a foundation for ongoing research into background levels from both a data quality and occupational health perspective.
Forensic Chemistry


Narcotics, Background, Quantification, LC/MS/MS, TD-DART-MS


Sisco, E. , Najarro, M. and Burns, A. (2018), A Method for Measuring the Quantity of Drugs on Surfaces in a Forensic Laboratory, Forensic Chemistry (Accessed April 23, 2024)
Created September 19, 2018, Updated November 21, 2018