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Clin Chem. 1994 Jul;40(7 Pt 1):1233-8.

Limit of detection (LQD)/limit of quantitation (LOQ): comparison of the empirical and the statistical methods exemplified with GC-MS assays of abused drugs.

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Armstrong Laboratory Drug Testing Division, Human Systems Center (AFMC), Brooks AFB, TX 78235-5240.


The limit of detection (LOD) for any analytical procedure, the point at which analysis is just feasible, may be determined by a statistical approach based on measuring replicate blank (negative) samples or by an empirical approach, consisting of measuring progressively more dilute concentrations of analyte. The limit of quantitation (LOQ), or concentration at which quantitative results can be reported with a high degree of confidence, may likewise be determined by either approach. We used both methods to determine LOD and LOQ for forensic gas chromatographic-mass spectrometric (GC-MS) analyses of abused drugs. The statistically determined LOD and LOQ values for these assays underestimated the LOD because of the large imprecision associated with blank measurements and the inability of blank samples to meet typical GC-MS acceptance criteria. The empirical method provided much more realistic LOD values, supported by reasonable experimental data, and are 0.5-0.03 the magnitude of the corresponding statistical LODs. The empirical LODs and LOQs are identical for these GC-MS assays. The observations made here about the LOD/LOQ for specific forensic GC-MS procedures are generally applicable to any type of analysis.

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