In a recent paper published in Drug Testing and Analysis (Richard Bade et al., (doi: 10.1002/dta.2484)), UCT’s Xtract® solid phase extraction sorbent was used to extract a diverse range of new psychoactive substances (NPS) from samples of waste water. The aim of this study was to investigate the changing landscape of NPS use on a community scale by combining wastewater and forensic toxicological analysis of post mortem blood.

In the extraction procedure, acidified water samples were loaded onto XRDAH 506 cartridges which had been conditioned with methanol and sodium acetate buffer. The cartridges were successively washed with sodium acetate buffer, acetic acid and methanol. Analytes were eluted with a mixture of dichloromethane:isopropanol:ammonia (80:16:4). Following dry down and reconstitution, samples were analyzed via LC-QTOF-MS and UHPLC-QqQ-MS.

 A total of 24 NPS were found: six in wastewater only, 13 in forensic post mortem toxicology samples only and five in both. As these results showed the presence of NPS, a targeted method was subsequently employed to quantify levels of these NPS in wastewater. Temporal trends were found in wastewater with distinct tendencies for synthetic cathinones visible over the period studied.

This study demonstrates the power and efficiency of UCT’s XtrackT® when employed to isolate the NPS compounds from waste water samples, and how important the data is for community-based drug analysis projects. For more information regarding UCT solid phase extraction sorbents, applications, and methods please visit www.unitedchem.com.