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Adulterants in Drug Testing

Adulterants in Drug Testing

Adulterants in Drug Testing

What are Adulterants in Drug Testing? Adulteration in urine drug tests is the manipulation of urine to produce a false negative result.

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Adulterants in drug testing are a real problem. It is common to come across the word ‘adulterant’ and get confused when you are looking around for drug testing supplies. Adulterants are substances which make a substance impure. In drug testing, it is a substance added to the urine sample in an attempt to manipulate the results of a drug test.

While you are more likely to come across these terms when looking up pharmaceuticals, they are also associated with cosmetics, fuel, food, and other chemicals.

Role of Adulteration in Drug Testing

The urine specimen gives a false negative drug test result when mixed with specific chemical adulterants.

With the availability of a wide variety of chemical adulterants, the process of manipulating the urine specimens has become very easy. This adversely affects the integrity of drug tests conducted regularly at a school or workplace, allowing people to get away with their licit or illicit drug habits by tampering with their samples.

Adulteration Strips

Adulteration detection strips, sold separately or integrated into test cups and other test devices, are available to detect most of the commonly used adulterants.  They identify attempts to adulterate the urine sample and report false negatives. Adulterant test strips are widely used to provide a clear picture of whether the urine sample submitted to the lab for drug testing has been tampered with.

Below is a list of the most common adulterants to “fool” a drug test.

Dilution by Water

Most drug tests work by measuring the concentration of specific drugs or drug metabolites. The higher the concentration of these metabolites, the more likely your test will yield a positive result. Dilution of the urine sample, by adding water, reduces the concentration of the drug or it’s metabolites, potentially below the drug cut-off (detection level) and can provide a false negative drug test result.

Specific gravity adulteration strips test the sample for dilute urine, which can be caused by adding water to the urine sample, alerting the individual administering the test.

Hypochlorite Bleach

Hypochlorite bleach is the regular laundry bleach used at home. Being an oxidant, bleach breaks down the THC or cannabinoid metabolites in urine, erasing any presence of THC in urine and giving a false negative test result.

An adulteration strip showing the presence of bleach in the urine deems the sample invalid for drug testing. It identifies tampering and potentially a false negative result.


Addition of Nitrites to a urine sample is commonly done to obtain a false-negative in a THC or cannabinoids drug test. Nitrate adulterants work by creating a nitroso-derivative of THC in the urine sample making THC undetectable. Urine samples that contain detectable levels of nitrates is proof of tampering.

Pyridinium Chlorochromate (PCC)

Pyridinium, when added to urine samples, can decrease concentrations of THC and Opiates and their metabolites.  Normal urine does not contain any levels of Pyridinium. Presence of Pyridinium may indicate an attempt to adulterate urine.

The Bottom Line on Adulterants in Drug Testing

With the increasing instances of adulterants in drug testing, adulteration strips are of great value to maintain the integrity of drug test results. They help ensure honest sample donors and reliable results of workplace and school drug testing programs.

While many urine drug test kits include adulteration strips, some may not. Given the minimal added cost of these strips, they are well worth the investment to ensure the effectiveness and validity of your drug testing program.

DrugTestKitUSA has a wide range of drug test kits with adulterant identification already added. The 12 Panel Drug Test Cup with Adulterants is the most popular and affordable option in that category. Please feel free to utilize the convenient filtering feature in the search area of the drug screening category. Filtering by adulterant type is available within the search menu.

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