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Characterization and Abuse of Electronic Cigarettes: The Efficacy of a Personal Vaporizer as an Illicit Drug Delivery System

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2014, $339,126)

As submitted by the proposer: Electronic cigarettes have been identified as a significant hazard to public health as a delivery device for nicotine. The use of electronic cigarettes as an illicit drug delivery system is promoted on websites and presents a clear criminal justice concern in the United States. Since web forums explain methods to improve illicit drug dosing in the e-cigarette aerosol by increasing power or making DIY formulations, the purpose of this research will be to characterize electronic cigarettes and describe the efficacy with which they can deliver drugs, such as nicotine, THC, methamphetamine, and heroin. This research will be conducted through a collaborative effort between the Departments of Forensic Science, Chemistry, Pharmacology-Toxicology, and the VCU Health System Toxicology Laboratory in order to bring wide experience and analytical strength to the project. Electronic cigarettes and supplies will be disassembled and components will be defined and characterized. The concentration of drug in the e-cig vapor will be characterized as a function of wattage/temperature of the heating element in the e-cigarette. Pyrolysis products and potential bio-markers will also be assessed. Aerosol from the electronic cigarettes will be generated mechanically and drugs will be cold-trapped and collected on SPME fibers. Residue on the e-cigarette components will be analyzed. Analyses will be conducted on the Direct Analysis in Real Time Accu-TOF MS, LC-MS/MS, and dynamic headspace GC-MS. All methods will be validated and studies will be conducted in accordance with the Scientific Working Groups for Forensic Toxicology (SWGTOX) and the Analysis of Seized Drugs (SWGDRUG). Outcomes will be disseminated through AAFS and SOFT platform and poster presentations, a workshop for forensic science practitioners, and manuscripts submitted for publication in relevant forensic science journals. Quarterly reports will be submitted to the project manager. ca/ncf
Date Created: September 11, 2014