Analysis of Trace Drugs of Abuse by Direct Analysis in Real Time (DART) Mass Spectrometry

  • David D. CunninghamEmail author
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1810)


Analysis of trace amounts of drugs of abuse is important in a variety of situations, including forensic casework. Here, a method for the facile, rapid collection of traces of drugs from a variety of porous and nonporous surfaces, including fabrics, is detailed. A small amount of extraction solvent, including an internal standard, is applied to the fabric surface, followed by application of a patterned absorbent disk which resorbs much of the extraction solvent along with dissolved traces of any drug present. Over half of the extraction solvent is recovered in 15 s from many natural and synthetic fabrics, with weights ranging from 64 to 374 mg/in.2, by pressing a half-inch diameter patterned glass fiber membrane disk to the wetted area. The patterned disk is then placed in a standard OpenSpot™ holder of a direct analysis in real time (DART) mass spectrometer with a data collection time of 1 or 2 min. Semi-quantitation of low microgram levels of drugs is achieved by comparison of spectra to those from a standard control disk.

Key words

Drug analysis Forensic trace analysis Controlled substances Direct analysis in real time DART Mass spectrometry 


  1. 1.
    Fatah AA (2000) Color test reagents/kits for preliminary identification of drugs of abuse. NIJ standard-060401Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Virginia Department of Forensic Science 221-D100 Controlled Substances Procedures Manual (2017) Accessed 8 Aug 2017
  3. 3.
    Keasey SJ (2011) Testing for the presence of methamphetamine residues on clothing from suspected clandestine labs. Master’s degree thesis, The University of Alabama at BirminghamGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Steiner RR, Larson RL (2009) Validation of the direct analysis in real time source for use in forensic drug screening. J Forensic Sci 54:617–622CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Cody RB, Laramée JA, Dupont Durst H (2005) Versatile new ion source for the analysis of materials in open air under ambient conditions. Anal Chem 77:2297–2302CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Lesiak AD et al (2014) Rapid detection by direct analysis in real time-mass spectrometry (DART-MS) of psychoactive plant drugs of abuse: the case of Mitragyna speciosa aka “Kratom”. Forensic Sci Int 242:210–218CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Musselman BD (2013) Membrane for holding samples for use with surface ionization technology. U.S. Patent No. 8,481,922. 9 July 2013Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Li F et al (2016) A method for rapid sampling and characterization of smokeless powder using sorbent-coated wire mesh and direct analysis in real time-mass spectrometry (DART-MS). Sci Justice 56:321–328CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Jastrzembski JA, Sacks GL (2016) Solid phase mesh enhanced sorption from headspace (SPMESH) coupled to DART-MS for rapid quantification of trace-level volatiles. Anal Chem 88(17):8617–8623CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Gómez-Ríos GA et al (2017) Towards on-site analysis of complex matrices by solid-phase microextraction-transmission mode coupled to a portable mass spectrometer via direct analysis in real time. Analyst 142(16):2928–2935CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Sisco E et al (2016) Rapid analysis of trace drugs and metabolites using a thermal desorption DART-MS configuration. Anal Methods 8:6494–6499CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Jenkins AJ (2001) Drug contamination of US paper currency. Forensic Sci Int 121:189–193CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Bu X et al (2016) The emergence of low-cost compact mass spectrometry detectors for chromatographic analysis. TrAC Trends Anal Chem 82:22–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hunter Scientific ServicesRichmondUSA

Personalised recommendations