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Non-Contact Detection Of Fentanyl And Other Synthetic Opioids

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2022
14 pages

This report presents the findings and methodology of a project with the goal of developing a method for detecting fentanyl and related substances without manipulation or handling of the hazardous material.



Increased instances of law enforcement personnel’s potential exposure to fentanyl constitutes a risk of fatality that can occur from direct contact with the substance. The risk is magnified because the current protocol for detecting fentanyl requires direct contact, manipulation, or destruction of the substance. Ion-mobility spectrometry (IMS) has become the standard as a detector for explosives and narcotics at ports and airports and can be used in vapor mode for non-contact detecting. The development of a field-portable, handheld IMS method for detection of fentanyl will provide for presumptive identification of fentanyl to increase safety for first responders. The results of the current study identified the need for a pre-concentrator on the hand-held device to improve the detection limit. A pre-concentrator will enable a larger mass of analyte to be trapped and then enter the detector as a bolus. Details of method optimization and testing will be outlined in “Non-contact detection of fentanyl by a field-portable ion mobility spectrometer,” to be submitted to “Analytical Chemistry” in November 2021.  

Date Published: April 1, 2022