Ever since workplaces started requiring workers to take drug tests, those opposed to them have consistently labeled the practice as an invasion of privacy, as employees are being asked to submit urine samples for the tests or face consequences. However, a recent scientific development might put a stop to all that, as scientists have reported developing a drug test that doesn’t require urine samples. All it needs to determine drug use or abuse is a person’s exhaled breath.
Exhaled breath drug test can detect many drug groups
The new approach analyses exhaled breath using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry or LC-MS, a
highly sensitive analytical method. The scientists who developed the breath drug test, led by Professor Olof Beck from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, claim that the technique can accurately detect several drug groups such as cannabis, amphetamines, heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines on a person’s exhaled breath.
The report was published in the March 15 issue of the Journal of Chromatography B.
According to the scientists involved in the study, the formation of aerosol particles from the breathing process is believed to be the underlying mechanism in exhaled breath drug testing. In a journal news release, Professor Beck said the aerosol particle in a person’s breath could be contaminated with drugs present in the body, and this basically allows drugs to be highlighted.
As for collecting samples of exhaled breath, Professor Beck says there is now a simple collection device that can be used to selectively collect the micrometer aerosol particles on a filter. The samples will then be tested further in a laboratory for possible drug content.
The exhaled breath drug test sounds promising, as it could prove to be very useful in a number of situations and settings. Roadside checks, for one, will become easier and more accurate in identifying those who are driving under the influence of drugs. If the exhaled breath drug test proves to be a reliable way to test for drugs, people can say goodbye to invasive urine or drug tests. Should employers decide to make it their preferred method of drug testing at work, invasion of privacy will no longer be an issue, and random drug testing would be a very welcome practice in virtually every workplace.