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Comparative analysis of vapor profiles of fentalogs and illicit fentanyl

NCJ Number
Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry Volume: 413 Dated: November 2021 Pages: 7055–7062
Date Published
November 2021
8 pages

This article reports on a project In which the semi-quantitative headspace analysis of fentanyl analogs and confiscated fentanyl exhibits was accomplished using solid-phase microextraction and gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry (SPME-GC-MS).


The availability of fentanyl is at a record high, with 3,138 kg of fentanyl and related substances being seized in 2019. Fentanyl’s high toxicity makes a lethal dose for most mere milligrams. With such a high potency and a consistent rise of abuse, the chances of injury or death of frontline workers increase with every interaction. Development of a non-contact detection method for fentanyl would decrease the chances of a workplace mishap. To aid in the development of a non-contact detection method, target analytes in the vapor profile of fentanyl need to be identified. In the current project, the vapor signatures of the samples were compared to a previously reported reference-grade fentanyl vapor signature to determine the target analyte(s) for fentanyl detection in the vapor phase. A total of 20 fentalogs and confiscated exhibits, with masses ranging from 2 to 19 mg, were sampled. N-Phenylpropanamide(NPPA) or N-phenethyl-4-piperidone(NPP) was identified as target analytes in 75 percent of these samples. This is a crucial component for the development of a non-contact detection method for fentanyl. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: November 1, 2021