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Forensic Sci Int. 2000 Jan 10;107(1-3):129-48.

Use of headspace solid-phase microextraction (HS-SPME) in hair analysis for organic compounds.

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Institute of Legal Medicine, Humboldt-University, Berlin, Germany.


Headspace solid phase microextraction (HS-SPME) has advantages of high purity of the extract, avoidance of organic solvents and simple technical manipulation and can be used in combination with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) in the hair analysis of a number of drugs. HS-SPME coupled with the hydrolysis of the hair matrix by 4% sodium hydroxide in the presence of excess sodium sulphate and of a suitable internal standard proved to be a convenient one-step method for the measurement of many lipophilic basic drugs such as nicotine, amphetamine derivatives, local anaesthetics, phencyclidine, ketamine, methadone, diphenhydramine, tramadol, tricyclic antidepressants and phenothiazines. Detection limits were between 0.05 and 1.0 ng/mg. From spiked 10-mg hair samples absolute recoveries between 0.04 and 5.7% were found. These recoveries decreased considerably if larger sample amounts were used, perhaps due to increased drug solubility in the aqueous phase or to elevated viscosity in the presence of dissolved hair proteins. Because of the phenolic hydroxyl group a change of pH after alkaline hair digestion (by adding excess orthophosphoric acid) was necessary for the detection of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta 9-THC), cannabinol (CBN) and cannabidiol (CBD) by HS-SPME. Nevertheless, the detection limits were such that only CBN could be detected in hair of a consumer. Clomethiazole, a compound hydrolysed in alkali, was measured by HS-SPME after extraction with aqueous buffer. The detection limit was 0.5 ng/mg. Cocaine could not be detected by HS-SPME. The application of HS-SPME to hair samples from several forensic and clinical cases is described.

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