• Liquid chromatography 'can test breath for drugs'
    Liquid chromatography is helping in the fight against drugs


Liquid chromatography 'can test breath for drugs'

May 20 2010

Breathalyser tests could soon look for drugs other than alcohol after research has developed a new technique of applying liquid chromatography to drug discovery.

Researchers at the Karolinska Institutet have previously looked into the possibilities of analysing saliva to detect traces of drugs.

However, that avenue proved unfulfilling - and they instead turned their attention to the breath.

Now, a special mask fitted with filters allows narcotic substances to be trapped in exhaled air when worn for a few minutes.

Liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry can then be used in tandem to determine which drugs are present in the breath.

"Our results open the way for a new kind of drugs test," says lead researcher Professor Olof Beck.

Conventional breathalysers typically use one of two methods; either electrochemical platinum fuel cell analysis, as is the case in many field devices, or infrared spectroscopy as is used in many desktop analysers.

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