In the current project, methods were developed for the analysis of GBL, for GC–MS, and liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS-MS) in the examined liquid and the aerosol generated from the liquid.
Gamma-butyrolactone (GBL), a commonly used industrial solvent, is used recreationally as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant and, therefore, is a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency List 1 chemical of the Controlled Substances Act. GBL was identified presumptively in the liquid from JUUL Virginia Tobacco flavored pods during routine untargeted screening analysis of e-cigarette products by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS). In the current study, three flavors of JUUL pods available at the time of analysis were obtained by direct purchase from the manufacturer, purchase from a local vape shop, and submission from a third party. The only liquid flavor to contain GBL was Virginia Tobacco, with an average of 0.37 mg/mL of GBL, and it was detected in the aerosol. Studies evaluating the pharmacological effects of inhaling GBL do not exist; however, a case report of chronic oral GBL ingestion indicates acute lung injury. The identification of GBL in an e-cigarette product purportedly compliant with federal regulation continues to demonstrate public health and public safety concerns. (publisher abstract modified)