Toxic adulterants are defined as pharmacologically active substances with action on the Central Nervous System (CNS). When added to the various substances present in drug street samples, they increase the user health risks by compound interaction – or intrinsic toxicity.

toxic adulterants1


Since 2016, scientists at the CFSRE have been working on the analysis of seized material from various parts of the country to identify the patterns of toxic adulterants in different states using high resolution mass spectrometry. This work also includes an assessment of toxic adulterants found worldwide through the International Toxic Adulterant Database (ITAD), which was founded by the Colombo Plan to monitor the spread and extent of toxic adulterating substances in the drug supply internationally. The partnership includes 29 participating countries.


  • Information about the pattern of toxic adulterants being used to cut drugs can help criminal investigations to trace geographical origin of the drug.
  • Information related to toxic adulterants in drug samples can also to help in the management of acute intoxications at health centers.
  • An international database documenting the prevalence and public health risks associated with the use of various toxic adulterants.


The research on toxic adulterants being conducted by the CFSRE includes the development and validation of methods to analyze these substances. The CFSRE has received samples from all across the United States, and therefore is able analyze the trending on toxic adulterants throughout the country. From an international perspective, a database with adulterant findings from laboratory surveys in 29 different countries is being conducted to build the International Toxic Adulterant Database, also known as the ITAD.


The CFSRE is working to develop informative material including training materials and scientific publications to contribute to the scientific community.


Peer reviewed publications

  • Kari M Midthun, Lewis S Nelson, Barry K Logan. Levamisole — A Toxic Adulterant in Illicit Drug Preparations: A Review. Therapeutic Drug Monitoring, April 2021, Volume 43, Issue 2, p 221-228. doi: 10.1097/FTD.0000000000000851
  • Tais R Fiorentin, Barry K Logan. Analytical Findings in Used Syringes from a Syringe Exchange Program. The International Journal on Drug Policy, Volume 81, July 2020.
  • Tais R Fiorentin, Alex J Krotulski, David M Martin, Thom Browne, Jeremy Tripplet, Trisha Conti, Barry K Logan. Detection of Cutting Agents in Drug-Positive Seized Exhibits within the United States. Journal of Forensic Sciences, Volume 64, Issue 3, November 2018, Pages 888-896. http://10.1111/1556-4029.13968
  • Tais R Fiorentin, Melissa Fogarty, Renata P Limberger, Barry K Logan. Determination of Cutting Agents in Seized Cocaine Samples Using GC-MS, GC-TMS and LC-MS/MS. Forensic Science International, Volume 295, December 2018, Pages 199-206.

Non peer reviewed publications

  • Oscar C Cabrices, Alex J Krotulski, Tais R Fiorentin, Barry K Logan, Adrian M Taylor. Data Independent Acquisition on Triple TOF® and X-Series QTOF Systems for Seized Drug Analysis. Published online at 2017


  • R Lance, Tais R Fiorentin, Alex J Krotulski, David M Martin, Thom Browne, Jeremy Triplett, Trisha Conti, Barry Logan. Detection of Toxic Adulterants in Seized Drugs Exhibits from Kentucky and Vermont. Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, 2018 Annual Meeting, Poster Presentation.
  • Michael Rieders, Laura Labay, Thom Browne, David Martin, Tais R Fiorentin, Barry Logan. Toxic Adulterants in Street Drugs May Contribute to the Toxicity Profile in Drugs. National Association of Medical Examiners. 2018 Annual Meeting. Poster Presentation.
  • Aymeric Morla, Oscar Cabrices, Alex Wang, Xiang He, Holly McCall, Laura Baker, Adrian Taylor, Alex Krotulski, Tais R Fiorentin, Barry Logan. Ultra-fast Characterization of Novel Synthethic Opioids Using a Data-independent Acquisition Analytical Workflow. The International Association of Forensic Toxicologists. 2018 Annual Meeting. Poster Presentation.
  • Tais R Fiorentin, David M Martin, Thom Browne, Jeremy Triplett, Trisha Conti, Barry K Logan. Detection of Toxic Adulterants in Seized Drug Exhibits in Kentucky and Vermont. American Academy of Forensic Sciences. 2018 Annual Meeting. Platform Presentation.