A team of researchers in Sweden claim to have developed a reliable test that can detect drugs in a person’s system through a sample of their exhaled breath.
A majority of mines in Australia currently use urine testing to check for drug impairment in their workforce, however the regime is unpopular with workers due to issues of privacy.
Most workplace urine drug testing require that a health professional, such as a nurse, witness the urine sample being expelled and collected.
Urine drug testing can also be costly, time-consuming and inconvenient to the flow of staff rostering.
Lead researcher, Professor Olof Beck, and his team from the Department of Laboratory Medicine at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, say their test is “fully validated and robust”.
“The underlying mechanism in exhaled breath drug testing is believed to be the formation of aerosol particles from the airway lining fluid by the breathing process. These aerosol particles may become contaminated with drugs present in the body, which enables drugs to be highlighted,” Professor Beck said.
The procedure can detect drugs in the amphetamine, methamphetamines, cannabis, cocaine and heroin groups, using a highly sensitive analytical technique known as LC-MS (liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry).
“The underlying mechanism in exhaled breath drug testing is believed to be the formation of aerosol particles from the airway lining fluid by the breathing process. These aerosol particles may become contaminated with drugs present in the body, which enables drugs to be highlighted. A simple collection device is currently available which selectively collects the micrometer aerosol particles on a filter and enables further laboratory investigation of possible drug content,” Professor Beck explained.
Professor Beck told Science Daily that the new test had wide ranging applications including roadside ‘Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID)’ testing.
“… I see many possible applications of breath drug testing. DUID is only one; workplace, criminal justice, accidents and compliance monitoring of patients are others,” Professor Beck said.
Niclas Stephanson, Sören Sandqvist, Marjan Shafaati Lambert, Olof Beck. Method validation and application of a liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry method for drugs of abuse testing in exhaled breath. Journal of Chromatography B, 2015; 985: 189 DOI: 10.1016/j.jchromb.2015.01.032
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Elsevier. “First validated method of detecting drugs of abuse in exhaled breath.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 March 2015. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150306102415.htm