New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) are quickly developing to evade legislation, posing unprecedented challenges to public health and law enforcement authorities around the world. The aim of this work was to develop and validate a simple and reliable non-target gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) analytical method based on linear retention indexes for the expeditious identification of NPS without the need of analytical standards. The method was optimized and validated for 22 different drugs covering ten categories: phenethylamines (amphetamine, MDMA, methamphetamine, 25CNBOMe, 2-FA, 5-MAPB), “classic” drugs (cocaine, ephedrine, THC, heroine), synthetic cannabinoids (JWH-081, AM-2201, JWH-210, MAM-2201), piperazines (o-CPP, p-CPP), tryptamines (5-MeO-MiPT), synthetic cathinones (N-ethylpentylone), synthetic opioids (U-47700), aminoindanes (5-IAI), plant-based substances (Salvinorin-A) and “other” (methiopropamine). Three figures of merit (Selectivity, Precision and Robustness) were evaluated with retention index confidence intervals ranging from 0.5 to 20.6 i.u. and relative standard deviations in the range of 0.003% to 0.027% (repeatability) and 0.02% to 0.29% (intermediate precision). A general equation for estimating linear retention index variation as a function of retention time tolerance has been derived. This result in combination with a 2 fractional factorial design allowed to conclude column polarity to be only statistically relevant factor as compared to gas flow, split ratio, injection temperature, temperature program offset and column brand.
Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier B.V.

References

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