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First liquid chromatography–high resolution mass spectrometry method for the determination of cocaine on banknote dust

Abstract

Purpose

Prevalence measures of sociological interest concerning cocaine presence on banknotes are fraught with (i) the extreme variability of its concentration (seven orders of magnitude); (ii) the high number of banknotes needed for the statistical significance. Banknote dust from counting machines from a large and representative number of banknotes in circulation in a specific area represents the most eligible sample to ascertain cocaine circulation. No chromatographic method is available in this respect. This study aims at developing the first analytical methodology for the determination of cocaine in banknote dust samples.

Methods

This novel and straightforward approach consists of a simple methanol extraction followed by analytical determinations via ultra-high performance liquid chromatography coupled to Orbitrap high-resolution mass spectrometry.

Results

Satisfactory analytical performance was obtained with a coefficient of determination of 0.996; maximum within-run and between-run precisions were, respectively, 1.85% and 5.20%. Limits of detection and quantification were, respectively, 3 and 9 ng/mL with an overall process efficiency of 93.2%. The method developed was successfully applied to 9 banknote dust samples from local banknote counter machines. The found concentrations ranged from 2.18E + 02 to 2.31E + 03 μg of cocaine per gram of banknote dust and varied only one order of magnitude, much less than cocaine concentration on banknotes.

Conclusions

To have an idea of cocaine circulation in a geographical area, the sampling of banknote dust, compared to banknotes, consists of tremendous advantages in terms of statistical significance, higher cocaine concentrations, and lower variability: this is crucial from the sociological point of view.

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Acknowledgements

Support from Dr.ssa Stefania Scatasta is gratefully acknowledged.

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Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

TC: project administration and supervision, conceptualization of the experimental idea at the basis of the study, panning of the experiments, methodology, validation, writing. ES: conceptualization, methodology, experiments supervision, writing. All the authors approved the manuscript preparation and submission.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Teresa Cecchi.

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The authors have no relevant financial or non-financial interests to disclose.

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This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any the authors.

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Cecchi, T., Santoni, E. First liquid chromatography–high resolution mass spectrometry method for the determination of cocaine on banknote dust. Forensic Toxicol 40, 357–365 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11419-022-00627-9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11419-022-00627-9

Keywords

  • Illicit drugs
  • Ultra-high performance liquid chromatography coupled to high-resolution mass spectrometry
  • Bills
  • Validation
  • Inclusion list
  • Higher-energy collisional dissociation