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What You Need to Know About Adulteration

June 8, 2015

In the drug testing industry, “adulteration” is an attempt to tamper with or dilute a urine specimen with the intention of altering a test’s results.  Adulteration can cause false negative results in drug tests by either interfering with the screening test and/ or destroying/diluting the drugs present in the urine.  We’ve all seen ads on websites for overnight cleanses to dilute and heard stories of people using someone else’s urine for a drug test.  At NetGain Mobile Diagnostics we’ve seen it all, and the only guaranteed way to pass a drug test is to not take drugs! 


Drug testing is a science.  For every attempt to adulterate a sample there is a scientific “check and balance” laboratories use to confirm the validity of the urine samples collected.  One of the best ways to test for adulteration or dilution is to determine certain urinary characteristics such as creatinine, pH, specific gravity, and to detect the presence of glutaraldehyde, nitrite and oxidants /pyridinium chlorochromate (PCC) in urine.  

  • Creatinine is a waste product of creatine; an amino-acid contained in muscle tissue and found in urine.  A person may attempt to foil a test by drinking excessive amounts of water or diuretics such as herbal teas to “flush” the system. Creatinine and specific gravity are two ways to check for dilution and flushing, which are the most common mechanisms used in an attempt to circumvent drug testing. Low creatinine and specific gravity levels may indicate dilute urine. The absence of creatinine (<5mg/dl) is indicative of a specimen not consistent with human urine.

  • Specific gravity tests for sample dilution. The normal range is from 1.003 to 1.030. Values outside this range may be the result of specimen dilution or adulteration.  (It is important to note that a candidate can inadvertently and quite innocently dilute their sample by drinking excessive amounts of water trying to be ready for their test).

  • Nitrite tests for commonly used commercial adulterants such as Klear or Whizzies. They work by oxidizing the major cannabinoid metabolite THC-COOH.2 Normal urine should contain no trace of nitrite. Positive results generally indicate the presence of an adulterant.

  • Glutaraldehyde tests for the presence of an aldehyde. Adulterants such as UrinAid and Clear Choice contain glutaraldehyde which may cause false negative screening results by disrupting the enzyme used in some immunoassay tests. Glutaraldehyde is not normally found in urine; therefore, detection of glutaraldehyde in a urine specimen is generally an indicator of adulteration.  
  • pH tests for the presence of acidic or alkaline adulterants in urine. Normal pH levels should be in the range of 4.0 to 9.0. Values outside of this range may indicate the sample has been altered.

  • Oxidants/PCC (Pyridinium Chlorochromate) tests for the presence of oxidizing agents such as bleach and hydrogen peroxide. Pyridinium chlorochromate is a commonly used adulterant. Normal human urine should not contain oxidants or PCC.

If a collector observes materials brought into the collection site to be used for the purpose of adulteration, or the donor’s conduct clearly indicates an attempt to tamper with his/her specimen, the collector can perform a direct observation collection.  At that point, a same gender collector will accompany the donor into the stall/toilet area and observes the act of urination to ensure the integrity of the sample. (It is important to note the direct observation may occur only under specific circumstances.)


The NetGain Mobile Diagnostics staff is rigorously trained in regulatory drug testing standards/protocols.  All of this training helps ensure our clients receive accurate test results and are not tricked by donors who attempt to adulterate their samples. 

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