Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Suzanne C Bell


Smoking or inhalation has increased in popularity as the choice route of administration of drugs of abuse amongst drug abusers. Combustion products associated with the smoking event (pyromarkers) of these smoked drugs of abuse can be useful in post mortem toxicological analysis both for investigative and public health applications. A method using analytical pyrolysis was developed to simulate the smoking process used for illicit drugs, which is significantly different than methods used for studies of conventional tobacco smoking, This method was used to identify possible markers associated smoked fentanyl and mixes of heroin and fentanyl. Thermocouple temperature probes were used to analyze the temperatures obtained through smoking the fentanyl transdermal patches (FTPs) in means of the "chasing the dragon" technique. These temperatures were then applied to the pyrolysis gas chromatography (Py-GC/MS) to mimic these smoking conditions to determine pyromarkers that were produced. The presence of a trap on the pyrolysis unit allowed for aerobic conditions by exposing the pyromarkers to air. A second advantage of trapping is preconcentration of pyromarkers. The method enhanced the recovery and afforded a positive identification of the pyromarkers. The methods and models developed here can be extended to any smoked drug, including drugs of current concern such as cannabinomimetics and incense/bath salt compositions.