Comprehensive monitoring of the occurrence of 22 drugs of abuse and transformation products in airborne particulate matter in the city of Barcelona

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In recent years monitoring the presence of psychotropic compounds in wastewater has been proposed as a tool to estimate community drug use. Measurement of drugs of abuse (DAs) in airborne particulate is currently being explored as an additional tool to evaluate drug use patterns in time and space, and identify potential emission sources. In this study, we comprehensively monitor the occurrence of 22 licit and illicit DAs and transformation products, belonging to 6 different chemical groups, in airborne particulate matter (PM10) in the city of Barcelona. In order to study spatial and temporal variations, samples were collected from 12 different selected locations on one weekday (Wednesday) and one weekend day (Saturday), during five consecutive weeks. A previously developed analytical methodology, based on pressurized liquid extraction (PLE) followed by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) determination, was adapted for analysis of the target compounds with satisfactory performance, ensuring reliability of results. Among the investigated compounds, cannabinol (CBN), cocaine (COC), and methamphetamine (MA) were found to be the most ubiquitous and abundant compounds in PM10 with concentrations ranging from 0.7pg/m<sup>3</sup> (MA) to 6020pg/m<sup>3</sup> (CBN). Significant differences in total DA concentrations in PM10 were observed across sampling days and locations. DA emissions were identified in highly densely populated areas, where popular commercial and nightlife zones are located. Psychoactive effects due to inhalation of measured concentrations are probably negligible; however, potential health effects due to chronic exposure have not been explored yet ​
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