Drug Testing - Suspected Adulterated Sample

Drug testing is supposed to be a precise science. For a urine sample to be positive the lab must give a qualitative (what) and quantitative (how much) analysis of the drug or drug metabolite found in the urine. This simply means identifying what was found and how much. The labs are not allowed to report "some bad substances were found in the urine". The information from the labs must be confirmed via two methods; a screen and confirmation to make sure the sample is truly positive. As explained below, this rigorous testing procedure is also applied to the detection of adulterants.

DOT certified labs are required to check for adulterants in each sample. However, the DOT requires labs to follow a certain protocol to ensure the samples are correctly handled. Every sample accused of adulteration must be confirmed via two different methods (tests) per the DOT guidelines.

The first test usually occurs at the point of care facility where the sample is taken. The nurse or technician will use a colormeteric dipstick to check creatinine, pH, specific gravity and nitrite. The nitrite patch on the dipstick is very non-selective and will give a false positive for nitrites and over a hundred different compounds. For this reason a "wet chemistry test" must be performed for a positive nitrite results on the dipstick. The wet chemistry test must include the quantitative and qualitative results of the nitrite confirmation. In cases dealing with nitrite adulteration, the court system has ruled laboratories are required to use an ion selective procedure to determine if the sample is "forensically defensible" as proof of adulteration.

Often laboratories or Medical Review Offices (MRO) will suspect an individual of adulterating a urine sample. After failing to find an adulterant, the labs will often place a call to the urine donor. At this point the labs will "shake down" the donor and ask what the donor placed in the urine sample. Any self-confession to the labs over the phone can be used against a donor as a failed drug test. The burden of proof is on the laboratory to show the sample was adulterated. The best situation for the donor is to admit to nothing.

A similar situation is speeding. If a cop pulls you over and asks you how fast you were going and you respond 85 mph, he can then write you a ticket for 85. In reverse, if a cop pulls you over and says you were doing 85 mph, you are in turn allowed to ask them how you were clocked. Whenever you are confronted with positive results for drugs or adulteration protect your rights in the same manner. Always ask what two methodologies were used and what level did they test positive at. In this situation the urine donor should ask the lab the following questions.

  1. What are the qualitative and quantitative levels of the adulterant found in the urine?
  2. What two separate methodologies were run to determine the presence of this adulterant as required by DOT guidelines?
  3. Was one of these methodologies a wet chemistry test or just a simple dipstick?
  4. Can I see the documentation showing that this adulterant is not supposed to be found in urine?
  5. Can I see a report of this information above printed on your company's letterhead?
  6. Is it with in my rights to see the previously requested report?

The MRO is a medical doctor. For this reason he has to be truthful with you or they are liable for malpractice. Be sure to see all of the information on company letterhead and do not accept any verbal information. It is your right and future, so ask the correct questions.

Bleach - For some reason labs commonly refer to any unusual samples as spiked with bleach. This statement by the labs usually indicates a level of incompetence on the lab or Medical Review Office. It is generally believed that the bleach comment by the lab is used to scare the donor into a confession of adulterating a sample. Bleach is liquid chlorine as used in most swimming pools. The odor of bleach is extremely obvious even at a low level of part per billion. Furthermore, with 100,000+ pools or so in America, bleach has become one of the easiest and most precise chemicals to detect. It seems common sense that if a maintenance man can accurately detect the levels of bleach in a pool, a trained lab technician would be able to correctly identify bleach in a urine sample. The determination of bleach is simple. A total chlorine and free chlorine level will accurately reflect the levels in the urine sample. Any sample adulterated with bleach will have a free or total chlorine level above 2 ng/ml or 2 parts per million.

In addition to asking the questions listed above, the following questions also pertain specifically to Bleach.

  1. Is there chlorine in bleach?
  2. Can you smell the chlorine in bleach?
  3. Can you smell the chlorine in my urine sample?
  4. What was the total chlorine level?
  5. What was the free chlorine level?

Halogen - More commonly samples are coming back from the lab as adulterated with the presence of Halogens. It is normal for halogens to be present in urine. The Halogen group includes Fluoride, Chloride, Bromine, and Iodine. If there are no halogens present in an individual's urine they are dead. Every human urine sample in the history of this planet has had some halogens in it. Table salt is sodium chloride. The chloride is a halogen and therefore it would be impossible not to have chloride in your urine. Sodium fluoride is used on teeth. The fluoride is a halogen. It is normal for an individual to have 2-3 different types of halogens present in their urine.

Another source of halogens is Iodine tablets. The tablets have become very popular in the post 9/11 era. There is a fear of attacks on the country's nuclear power plants. One of the first types of cancer associated with nuclear contamination is thyroid cancer. It has been widely publicized the chance of Thyroid cancer can be reduced by supplemental iodine. It is a shame people are failing their drug tests because they are afraid of more terrorist attacks on this country.

There are no upper limits or toxic limits for halogens in the urine. Therefore, it is improper for a lab to fail an individual for the presence of halogens or high halogens in the urine. In this situation the urine donor should ask the lab the following questions.

  1. Are there any halogens in table salt?
  2. Is there anything wrong with taking potassium iodine tablets?
  3. What are the upper limits or toxic limits of halogens in urine, and where did the referenced data come from?

Oxidants - The same testing criteria applied to nitrites must also be applied to oxidants and other adulterants. Oxidants are a class of compounds containing hundreds of different compounds. According to prior court cases, the labs can't determine an oxidant is present without specifying the exact oxidant that is present. The oxidant needs to be narrowed down to a single compound and not listed as a general class like "oxidant".

Another source of oxidants in our system is from Nitrites. Nitrites are found in drinking water and in bacon or pork as food preservatives. Nitrites are also produced naturally within the body during a urinary or bladder infection. Still another source of oxidants is chromates from vitamins. Most weight loss programs or body building programs have chromium picolinate to help you burn fat. There are no scientifically determined upper limits or toxic limits for oxidants in the urine. Therefore, it is improper for a lab to fail any individual for the presence of oxidants or high oxidants in a urine sample.

Other Adulterating Compounds

Acids - Acids were the very first type of urine adulterants used back in the early to mid 1990's. Hydrochloric and nitric acid were the most common types of acids used. The marijuana metabolite under goes a 10-50% deteriorating in an acid environment. The laboratories easily stopped the use of acid as an adulterant by simply checking the pH. Any sample with a pH of less than 4.0 was considered adulterated. The use of an acid based additive usually left the pH 3 or less.

Chromates (Cr2O4) - Chromates are a common compound found in vitamins and dietary aids such as Metabolife, and body building formulas. Chromates can be called several things including, chrome, chromium 6, chromium picolinate, all of these are the same compounds under different names. The chromates give the urine an orangish color. Chromium 3 is a different species all together and has a green color. If an individual adds chrome to a urine sample, and it turns green, the chrome has been converted from chromium 6 to chromium 3, indicating the presence of a reducing sugar. This is common in diabetes individual. In the appropriate doses, chromates are vital to the body for muscular development/toning and mental health. Older formulations of Urine LuckTM 5.4 - 5.9 contain the compounds of chromates. If an individual has too high of level of chromates in their urine, the sample may be labeled as adulterated. However, if the individual claims to be taking the dietary aids three to four times higher than recommend dosage, the adulteration claims from chromates maybe waived.

Glutaraldehyde - Is the compound, which was used for the first formulation by Clear Choice. Because the compound is highly toxic there is no reason for it to be in urine. Labs routinely check for the compound with a multi-stick, which has a patch for aldehydes which Glutaraldehyde is a type of. If the Glutaraldehyde is detected the sample is labeled adulterated and the test is not performed.

Nitrites (NO2) - Nitrites can be found in foods such as poultry, pork, and drinking water. The body can also produce nitrites naturally, however, this is usually a sign of a urinary tract infection. For this, small amounts of nitrite are permitted in the urine. Any sample with nitrites above 500 mg/ml (microgram per milliliter) is consider forensically defensible as proof of adulteration. Klear and all the Urine Luck 3.0 series had nitrites in the formulations. This is why the labs continue to check for the nitrite.

Pyridine - Is one of the compounds found in Urine Luck 5.0 - 5.3. This compound can also be found in some over-the-counter medications such as Uristat and Azo-Standard. These products are used to ease the pain of a bladder infection. For this reason a tester can normally "get off" if pyridine is found in the urine. The tester must purchase medicine at the drug store and take it back to the lab. The tester can normally get a second test once they show the lab that the only ingredient in these over-the-counter products has pyridine.