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Adulterants in drug testing detect foreign substances that were intentionally ingested or added to urine samples to manipulate and produce a false negative result in drug testing.
Substance users usually cheat tests in three different ways:
- Substitution of synthetic urine or pure and clean substance
- Dilution of urine through drinking or adding fluids
- Adulteration or blending of an adulterant in urine specimen at collection sites.
Today, rapid drug screens or immunoassay tests evolved to have built-in adulterant detectors to check the urine sample’s authenticity.
What are the most common specimen validity tests or adulterant detectors for human urine samples?
There are three common indicators to detect adulterants in drug testing:
- Creatinine. Creatinine is an indicator of how much water or fluid that urine contains. Concentrations below 45 mg/dL determine if a urine specimen has been physiologically or non-physiologically diluted and if a corresponding negative drug result is valid.
- Specific Gravity. Along with creatinine levels, specific gravity identifies any dilution of the urine specimen. Specific gravity for urine tests must be from 1.003 to 1.03. Anything below 1.003 indicates a diluted sample.
- pH. High pH detection means acidic adulterants are present in the urine specimen. pH levels beyond 4.5 to 9 can be an indication of tampering.
The use of adulterants interferes with the drug test to cause false negative results. But how do evaluators or technicians detect these common adulterants? It’s through the use of validity tests or adulterant detectors.
What are the most common adulterants in drug testing?
Understanding validity tests or indicators is essential to detect common adulterants in a urine sample. Below are the most commonly used adulterants to cheat drug test, according to Pub Med:
Drinking excessive amounts of water or mixing urine with water dilutes it. This affects the urine’s creatinine and specific gravity.
The addition of table salt (sodium chloride) with urine increases urine’s specific gravity.
Urine specimens adulterated with bleach can shift urine pH outside the physiological range.
Soap/ laundry detergent
There’s an evident change in the color of urine mixed with soap or detergent from a golden yellow color to an unusually cloudy appearance.
Toilet bowl cleaner
Toilet bowl cleaner is an acidic cleaner, and if diluted with urine, then pH changes beyond the acceptable range.
Stealth® (containing peroxidase and hydrogen peroxide), Urine Luck (pyridinium chlorochromate, PCC), Klear® (potassium nitrite)
These are adulterants containing oxidizing agents such as peroxide, potassium nitrite, and pyridinium chlorochromate. And these may potentially destroy drugs of abuse and their metabolites, leaving no remains. For these adulterants, you can perform additional tests in conjunction with the standard validity tests for creatinine, specific gravity, and pH to provide further information regarding a urine sample’s validity.
A 100% drug free workplace
Can adulterants in drug testing prevent cheating? That depends on how strict and effective a collection site is. Therefore, when an organization adopts a drug testing program, it is recommended that they include ‘adulterant testing’ in their lab panel and instant drug screening.
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