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What is Paper Spray Mass Spectrometry?

Nov 16, 2017 | QA

Paper spray mass spectrometry may sound like a very a scientific approach to something beyond your comprehension and maybe it is. First, let’s start with spectrometry. The definition of “spectrometry” is an instrumental method for identifying the chemical constitution of a substance by means of the separation of gaseous ions to their differing mass and charge. Then there is the definition of “paper spray mass” which is a technique used to produce ions from a sample to be analyzed.

What this means in laymen terms is that a sample can be taken and applied to a piece of paper where solvent is added. Ions are created that have a reaction, or high voltage, from the sample and the solvent mixing which causes what is now known as a electrospray or paper spray mass spectrometry. Although the electrospray has been known for hundreds of years, a chemist at Northwestern University, Professor Dole, began to study and test its boundaries back in the 1960’s. Since then, paper spray mass spectrometry has transformed into something that can be really useful for substance abuse.

In recent news, paper spray mass spectrometry has been linked to finding cocaine in an individual’s system by a mere fingerprint. Research was taken from two different groups. One group consisted of patients that were in treatment for drugs and another group of people that did not use drugs. Participants that were being tested were asked to wash their hands before the analysis was to take place. Metabolite byproducts of cocaine, Methylecgonidine and Benzoylecgonine, were to be found if someone had used the drug, cocaine. These chemical indicators would be found in fingerprint residue even after the participants had washed their hands to indicate if cocaine was in their system.

This may be bad news for someone who uses cocaine, but good news for law officials and clinics that may have cut down cost and the hassle of trying to drug test someone under the influence. Laboratory waiting time would be taken away and a positive or negative response to the test would take place right away. This technique has a 99 percent efficacy rate to make it a useful tool to test people that may be suspected of using cocaine.

Technology for drug testing continues to be on the up and up. Scientists are finding more efficient and simpler ways to help addicts get nabbed for drug use to hopefully get them on their way to help in recovery.

If someone you love is using drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism, send them to us at Serenity Oaks Wellness Center to start their recovery process. Our 5-week program is good place to start.  Call us today: 844-720-6847

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