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Forensic Sci Int. 2010 May 20;198(1-3):46-52. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2009.12.014. Epub 2010 Jan 6.

Potential of IRMS technology for tracing gamma-butyrolactone (GBL).

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  • 1Swiss Laboratory for Doping Analyses, University Centre of Legal Medecine, Geneva and Lausanne, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois and University of Lausanne, Ch. des Croisettes 22, Epalinges, Switzerland.

Abstract

Popularity of gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) is fairly stable among drug users, while the consumption of its chemical precursor, gamma-butyrolactone (GBL), is a growing phenomenon. Although conventional analytical methods allow to detect this substance in various matrices, linking a trace and a source is still a difficult challenge. However, as several synthesis pathways and chemical precursors exist for the production of GBL, its carbon isotopic signature may vary extensively. For that purpose, a method has been developed to determine the carbon isotopes content of GBL by means of gas chromatography/combustion/isotope ratio mass spectrometry (GC/C/IRMS). The delta(13)C-values of 19 bulk samples purchased worldwide were in the range from -23.1 to -45.8 per thousand (SD<0.3 per thousand). Furthermore, testing on the purification of GBL by distillation has not been found to be consistent with such a large range of delta(13)C-values, which are likely to result from the isotopic composition of the organic precursors used to produce GBL together with the kinetic isotope effect associated with the synthesis routes. Finally, inter- and intra-variability measurements of the delta(13)C-values demonstrated the high potential of IRMS for discriminating between seizures of GBL and for source determination.

PMID:
20056363
DOI:
10.1016/j.forsciint.2009.12.014
[PubMed]
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