An Analysis of Drugs of Abuse Found on Lebanese Currency Bills Using High Pressure Liquid Chromatography Tandem Mass Spectrometry

Date of Submission


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Forensic Science


Forensic Science


Frederick P. Smith

Committee Member

Steven Castiglione

Committee Member

Stanley Menacherry


Drugs--Analysis, Money--Lebanon, Chemistry,Forensic, Forensic sciences

Call No. at the Univ. of New Haven Library

AS 36 .N29 For. Sci. 2014 no.2


The ubiquitous use of illicit substances across the world coupled with their diverse prevalence raises the question, can currency bill testing provide an indication of drug use and trafficking patterns? Since these substances can be transferred to many everyday items via touch, is it possible to extract potential illicit substances from banknotes using an aqueous acid extraction procedure? This novel research was conducted on Lebanese banknotes, n=100, from ten locations using the separation technique high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) and the sample was identified using tandem mass spectrometry (MS). The focus was placed on the following controlled substances: amphetamine, cocaine, methamphetamine, 2,3-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, morphine and delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol. The limit of detection (LOD) for each analyte is as follows: cocaine = 46.52 ng, morphine = 19.66 ng, MDMA = 13.90 ng and methamphetamine = 18.25 ng. THC and amphetamine could not be quantitated due to insufficient data points on the standard curve. Using these LOD’s, 9% of bills tested positive for THC, 70% for cocaine, 3% for morphine, 2% for MDMA, 4% for methamphetamine and 2% for amphetamine. The ranges detected for cocaine = 4,400-321,080 ng, morphine = 198-399 ng, MDMA = l,000-2,800ng and methamphetamine = 912-2,620 ng. These results contribute to the understanding of drug deposition on currency and the implications for determining drug use and trafficking patterns.